My Donation Lesson and 3 Tips for Helping Protect Yourself when Donating to Charities Online

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A funny thing happened on the way to making our online donation to our favorite charity last year. For the past few years, it’s been our tradition to sit down on New Year’s Eve, get a little nostalgic about the previous 12 months, and, with gratitude, make our donation.

So we sat down in the evening last December 31st and searched for the web page of our charity. When the page first displayed, it looked a little different than we had remembered, and it concerned us, but the address looked correct.

Now I bet I know where you think this is going, so I’m just going to tell you right now, it turned out to be the correct page. The page had changed, but we were in the right place after all and everything turned out ok, yet the experience did cause us some anxiety and highlighted for us a flaw in our system.

Of course, our concern was that we somehow had pulled up a clone site. A clone site, as you may already know, mimics a real site in order to get personal information from unsuspecting victims including names, addresses, and credit card numbers.

Our first impulse was to verify we were on the correct page by calling the charity before donating, but at that moment, we realized the predicament we had put ourselves in by waiting until the evening of December 31st: There was no one at the charity to call and the New Year was just hours away.

So this year we are not going to wait for the last few hours of the year to make our donation. Our experience taught us we both need and want the option to investigate if we think there might be a problem.  Eight o’clock on December 31st just isn’t a good time to do that.

Now, since October is both National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and National Crime Month, and since I am a Lifelock ambassador, the good folks at gave me a few tips to keep in mind to help you help yourself to protect your identity when making online donations to charity:

1 If you receive an unsolicited email urging you to donate for a good cause, be cautious that you are not downloading a virus with an attachment, that a link in the email doesn’t take you to a clone site, and that it is not a phishing scam.

2 If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from a real charity, do not respond to it. Call a publicly available phone number for the charity and donate or speak to the charity directly.

3 Thieves don’t always steal large sums all at once, they may charge small amounts month to month which add up to large amounts over time. They may do this by opening new accounts in your name or by posing as a charity requesting a small monthly “donation.”

Don’t forget, too, to keep playing the Lifelock for Life sweepstakes, you can read more about it on my post here, and you can play every week for a chance to win great prizes. The more you play, the more chances you will have to win.

Happy Halloween

Disclosure: I’m a LifeLock Ambassador and as such I am compensated. As always my comments and opinions are my own. Mama Latina Tips Information Purposes Legal Disclosure

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