Personal Finance

Charity Car Donation Scams – How to Spot Them, How to Avoid Them

If you are thinking “I want to donate my car to charity”, you’re on your way to making a truly generous gesture. Give to a reputable charity and you will be getting an old car off your hands, funding important programs that help people in your city or state, you could be helping a needy man or woman get affordable transportation, and if you itemize your tax returns you may also be able to claim a nice charity tax deduction.

If you are thinking “I want to donate my car to charity”, you’re on your way to making a truly generous gesture. Give to a reputable charity and you will be getting an old car off your hands, funding important programs that help people in your city or state, you could be helping a needy man or woman get affordable transportation, and if you itemize your tax returns you may also be able to claim a nice charity tax deduction.

Unfortunately, “I want to donate my car to charity” can also be the first thought that leads to becoming prey to a car donation scam. These scammers tell you the money goes to charity, when often they pocket up to 90% of the money raised from your donation. Or they could create their own charity and staff it with family and friends. Or they might even just take your car.

New charity car donation scams are popping up every day — how does a generous person donate their car to charity and avoid scammers? Here are a few tips:

1: First, check the charity out you’re considering donating to. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator.org. If they have a negative listing, or worse, no listing at all, don’t donate to them.

2: Avoid middlemen. Most car donation scammers are middlemen. You can recognize them because they aren’t associated with any specific charity, and may give you the choice of what charity you want your donation to benefit. When you donate to a middleman, the charity gets much less of your donation – sometimes as little as 10%.

3: Donating directly is the answer to the dreaded charity car donation middleman. Only donate your car to a charity you trust that runs its own car donation program.

4: Request a copy of the IRS letter that grants the organization 501(c)(3) status. 5: Make certain that when you hand over your car to the tow truck company, you ask for a receipt. 6: If you have any doubt about the organization you’re thinking about donating to, call the IRS and check them out.

Police or firefighter charity car donation scams are in a class by themselves. Most civic-minded people want to help the men and women who serve and protect us, and scammers take full advantage of that.

When asked to donate a vehicle to a police or firefighter fund, follow these guidelines to avoid scams: 1: Ask for documentation or a website so you can check out the organization name, address and the group they support. That way you can also see if they are a local, state or national organization.

2: Call your local police or fire station and ask questions about the group that is asking for your donation. If they tell you the charity is on the level, it is. 3: Always ask how much of the money raised from your donation will be going to help police or firefighters. If the number seems too low, don’t donate.

Follow these simple guidelines to make sure your donation does the good you want it to, and avoid car donation scams when you have any unused vehicle you’d like to donate to charity.

Donate a car to charity and avoid car donation scams at CarsHelpingPeople.org, the online car donation site for Volunteers of America. Give your vehicle with confidence – 100% of the funds stay with Volunteers of America, and 88% is used for life changing community services for the homeless, veterans, children at risk and seniors. CarsHelpingPeople.org.