The major credit card companies are coming together to help support relief efforts after the earthquake and tsunami that have crippled Japan. Visa, MasterCard and Discover are waiving transaction fees for charitable organizations that are accepting donations by credit card.
“While donating to the cause by credit card can be one of the safest ways for you to help the victims of the cause, scams are in abundance,” said Roman Shteyn, CEO at Credit-Land.com, “so make sure you know how to protect yourself and ensure that the money gets to where it is intended to go.”
Here are some more tips on making the most of your donations.
Donate to Listed Organizations
One way to protect yourself from a scam artist taking advantage of a natural disaster to steal your money is to review a list of charities and organizations that your credit card issuer supports. For example, Visa, MasterCard and Discover are all waiving fees on donations to the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity and Save the Children. If you cannot get your hands on a list, then choose a reputable organization that you are familiar with.
Research the Organization
If the organization asking for donations is not one that is familiar to you, take a moment to check out its reputation before handing over your credit card information. Research the organization online. Contact the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s Office to see if there are any complaints against the organization. Review online forums to see if other donors are complaining about problems with donating to the charity or organization. Even a simple search online in your favorite search engine will bring up good and bad comments or any issues consumers are having with the charity. Charitynavigator.org offers breakdowns of how charities spend their money.
Use Your Card
Using your credit card to make donations is the safest way to give. If you find out the organization is scam, then you have recourse in contacting your credit card company and disputing the charge. Rather than provide your credit card information by phone to a representative that is calling you, reverse the process. Contact the organization directly by calling them or going to the official website and inputting your information there. This helps to ensure that you are sharing your credit card information with a reputable company, charity or organization involved with the cause.
Credit card companies are also making their own contributions to the relief efforts. For example, MasterCard is donating $250,000 and matching any contributions made by its employees. In the meantime, while you try to decide where to make your mark in helping the victims in Japan, contribute the safe way by fully understanding where you are donating and what the money is going to be used for.