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GoFundMe "misuse" scams skyrocketing

GoFundMe "misuse" scams skyrocketing
Dreamstime

If you're like most people, you're compassionate and kind. Your heart aches when you see people suffering, especially children, veterans or families who are desperately trying to help save a loved one's life or give them a proper burial.

You've probably handed over a few dollars when you've seen families collecting money on the side of the road. You've probably shed a tear when you saw people suffering after natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

It's understandable that you want to help. Whether you're donating thousands of dollars every year or the spare change you can scrounge up, you help as much as you can.

The internet has become an incredible resource for people like you. You can scan crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe for issues that touch your heart.

GoFundMe has helped millions of people raise money. More than 25 million people like you have donated $3 billion since the site launched seven years ago.

The site does not charge to donate. However, it collects 7.9 percent of the donations from the person raising the money.

Unfortunately, for every person like you who's genuinely trying to help other people, there's a person trying to steal your money. That includes GoFundMe scams. You may have heard about people, for instance, falsely claiming to have cancer just to raise some money.

The scams are so troublesome that they've raised the ire of people like Adrienne Gonzalez. She created the site GoFraudMe, specifically to alert people to GoFundMe scams.

So, how do you know if a campaign is legitimate or a scam? Sadly, there is no foolproof way to do that.

However, if you follow these three steps, you'll end up donating to legitimate campaigns far more often than not.

1. Contact the person who's collecting the money - Ask them questions until you're convinced they're raising money for a real cause (see red arrow below).

2. Check their Facebook profile and other social media pages - You can see if other people have raised questions about their campaign.

3. Do a Google search - See if their issue has been covered by the media.

Bonus: 5 steps to a successful campaign to raise money on Facebook

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