You may be compelled to amp up your charitable giving in the weeks leading up to Christmas, as the holiday season is known for being a time of goodwill. Maybe you'll choose to give your time to a soup kitchen or shelter. Like many shoppers do, you might take a more casual approach and donate some spare change to a charity when you're paying at the cash register. However you choose to help others, you should always take into consideration your safety first, especially when it comes to your identity.
Scammers love to take advantage of the overall positive energy that inspires many people to lend a hand this time of year. In reality, many organizations who solicit you for a donation aren't legitimate charities but thieves looking to take advantage of your good credit.
In general, avoid email solicitors that ask for your money
If you receive emails asking for a monetary contribution, don't click on any links within the message until you can verify that the request comes from an organization you can trust. If you have any doubts or don't recognize the organization's name, delete the email. The links inside may contain viruses that could ravage your computer and potentially compromise personal identification information (PII) on your computer and use it to steal your identity. Make a donation that actually counts on a website that has been cleared by your antivirus and is an organization that has been recommended to you.
A charity will almost never need your PII to process your donation
Whether in person or online, never give out account or Social Security numbers (SSN) when dealing with charities. There is no reason why your contribution should require any of this information being handed over unless the organization has an ulterior motive.
A good offense is the best defense, so guard against thieves
Before you do any charitable giving this holiday season, get yourself the gift of credit monitoring to get insight into certain activity on your credit report as well. It's probably the worst time of year to have your credit score compromised, so be smart about the purchases and donations you make leading up to Christmas.