There are many legitimate organizations that are trying to raise money for those in need. Unfortunately, local and world events and certain times of the year lead to an increase in donation requests from scammers trying to dupe people into a charity scam. Here are 10 red flags to look for when you are considering donating to a charity.

Red flags

  1. The charity is unregistered.

    Do a basic search through Revenue Canada to verify the status of the charity.

  2. Pushy and aggressive sales tactics.

    You should never feel pressured or uncomfortable. A legitimate organization will respect your decision if you choose not to donate.

  3. Unable to provide details about the charity.

    You should be able to access their information with ease (address, phone number, mission statement, charity registration number, etc). The Government of Canada has more information about getting information about a charity available online.

  4. Playing on your emotions.

    Be wary of pleas that seem to exploit a recent disaster. If you keep your emotions at bay and focus on the facts you might notice something that doesn’t seem right.

  5. Bad grammar or an unofficial-looking website.

    A legitimate charity will have gone through due processes to ensure any written materials are professional.

  6. Requesting cash only.

    Cash is not traceable and cannot be cancelled. Paying by credit card or a cheque offer you more protection.

  7. Similar name to a respected or popular charity.

    Phony charities will sometimes use names that resemble respected charities. If you are ever unsure, call the charity directly.

  8. You are offered a courier to collect your money.

    This high-pressure tactic is sometimes used in charity scams.

  9. Calls or invoices that thank you for a pledge you don’t remember making.

    Some unscrupulous solicitors use this strategy to get your money.

  10. Strange phone numbers or email addresses.

    Phone numbers like 888-888-8887 might indicate the caller is trying to hide their number.

While scams exist, don’t allow scammers to deter you if you want to donate to a charity. There are many legitimate charities that need support. Just remember to do your research and confirm the authenticity of the charity first.

If you think you may have been scammed, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or call 1‑888‑495‑8501.

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at


Watch out for charity scams
Don’t be a victim of an online fundraising scam
Hang up on unwanted scam calls