How to report GoFundMe fraud and protect money from misuse - Consumer Boomer (2022)

Do you often donate to charities and causes? You’ve probably tried GoFundMe at least once.

But what if you’ve encountered suspicious campaigns?

GoFundMe is a popular platform for raising money. It’s a great way to get help from friends, family, and even strangers. But, like any other platform, there are people out there who’ll try to scam you.

When you donate, you’ll want to make sure they’re used the right way.

We feel you! So, we looked at official GoFundMe sources to understand its process of identifying fake campaigns and the measures it has in place. We also checked the latest news and cases of fake GoFundMe campaigns so we can stay updated on scammers’ increasingly creative tactics.

Don’t fall victim to those fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns. Keep reading until the very end to find out the most crucial sign to watch out for so you can identify fake GoFundMe campaigns from the real ones.

How can you report GoFundMe fraud?

How to report GoFundMe fraud and protect money from misuse - Consumer Boomer (1)

If you think that you’re a victim of GoFundMe fraud, you can report it both to GoFundMe directly or to the authorities. Let’s go through the steps you need to take for each method.

Reporting directly to GoFundMe

Below are the steps you should take if you want to report fraud to GoFundMe.

1. Review GoFundMe’s Terms of Service

According to the GoFundMe website, they’ll only remove fundraisers who violate their Terms of Service or who have a proven misuse of funds. They note that they won’t take action on issues of personal disputes like custody or disagreements.

If you believe that you were a victim of GoFundMe fraud, you must review the platform’s Terms of Service so you can see if they’ve actually violated any of the policies in it.

Keep in mind that some activities may seem suspicious to you, but GoFundMe doesn’t actually consider them fraudulent. Examples of such cases are also outlined on the platform’s website.

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2. Gather your information

Once you’ve reviewed the Terms of Service and you’re sure that you have a case, you need to start gathering your information. This includes anything that will help support your claim. This might be things like screenshots, chat logs, or emails.

You can also go beyond the campaign page on the GoFundMe website itself. If the person who created the campaign has a social media presence, see if you can find any information there that might help your case.

3. Submit a report to GoFundMe

Once you have all of your information gathered, you can submit a report to GoFundMe. You can do this by filling out either the donor claim form, the beneficiary claim form, or the report a fundraiser form on the website.

In general, these forms will ask you to provide:

  • Your name, email address, and phone number
  • The name of the campaign organizer and the URL to the fundraiser
  • A description of what happened
  • Any relevant links, screenshots, or photos

GoFundMe will then review your report and take appropriate action. This might include removing the campaign, refunding donations, or contacting law enforcement.

Reporting to law enforcement

If you want to take legal action against the person who scammed you, you need to report it to the authorities as well.

1. File a police report

Start by filing a police report in the jurisdiction where the crime took place. You can do this at your local police station.

When you file the report, be sure to include as much information as possible. This includes the name of the campaign, the URL, how much money was donated, and any other relevant information. The more information you can give them, the better.

2. Work with the investigator

After you file the report, an investigator will most likely be assigned to your case. They’ll then reach out to GoFundMe and request information about the campaign.

GoFundMe will cooperate with law enforcement and provide them with any relevant information. This might include the name, email address, and physical address of the campaign organizer.

Keep in mind that it can take some time for the authorities to complete the investigation. But, if you have evidence that a crime was committed, it’s important to report it so the person responsible can be held accountable.

3. Report the fraud to other relevant government agencies or offices

You can also report GoFundMe fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is a government agency that protects consumers from fraudulent and deceptive business practices.

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To file a complaint with the FTC, you can either do it online or call their hotline at 1-877-FTC-HELP. When you file the complaint, be sure to include as much information as possible.

The FTC will then investigate your complaint and take appropriate action. This might include taking legal action against the person who scammed you or filing a suit against GoFundMe.

In some cases, the FTC might also issue refunds to people who were scammed. But, this is usually only done if there are a large number of complaints about a specific campaign.

Depending on your case, you may also approach the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center, the US Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud, or the office of your state’s attorney general to work with them on resolving issues of fraud.

How do you spot fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns?

How to report GoFundMe fraud and protect money from misuse - Consumer Boomer (2)

The key to avoiding scams is being informed about them. There are a few key things you can do to spot a fraudulent GoFundMe campaign.

1. Take a close look at the campaign organizer’s profile page

Start by checking for a blue checkmark next to the campaign organizer’s name that indicates that GoFundMe has verified their account.

This means that the organizer has undergone GoFundMe’s verification process which includes verifying their identity and connecting their campaign to a Facebook profile. If the organizer isn’t verified, that doesn’t necessarily mean the campaign is fraudulent, but it’s something to be aware of.

Alternatively, you can also review the information on the organizer’s profile page. If there’s little information about the organizer or the campaign itself, it may be cause for concern.

2. Read through the campaign description

See if it contains any red flags. For example, if the campaign description is vague or contains grammatical errors, that could be a sign that the campaign is not legitimate.

Be wary also of campaigns that make unrealistic promises or claims. Be suspicious as well of those that are asking for a lot of money without providing much information about how they’ll use it.

A campaign that promises to cure cancer with a new miracle drug, for example, is likely to be fraudulent.

3. Check if the campaign has been verified by GoFundMe

Campaigns that GoFundMe has verified have a green checkmark next to them. If the campaign you’re looking at doesn’t have a green checkmark, be wary.

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4. Check if the campaign has been verified by a third party

This verification process is voluntary for the organizers. If they went through the trouble of going through it, however, then it can give you some peace of mind knowing that someone else has vetted the campaign and found it to be legitimate.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to contact the campaign organizer directly with any questions or concerns you may have. This is one of the most crucial steps in identifying legitimate fundraising campaigns.

If the organizers are unwilling or unable to provide answers, it could be an indication that the campaign isn’t legitimate.

Again, if you spot any of these red flags, it’s best to avoid donating to the campaign. There are many legitimate campaigns on GoFundMe, so there’s no need to take chances with your hard-earned money.

Which is better: crowdfunding campaigns or traditional charities?

When it comes to charitable giving, there are a variety of options to choose from. Two of the most popular methods are donating to crowdfunding campaigns and traditional charities.

Both are perfectly legal. However, they each have their advantages and disadvantages that are important for you to weigh before you make a decision.

Giving through crowdfunding

The advantages of giving through crowdfunding include:

Advantages

  • You can see how your money is being used. With crowdfunding, you can usually see exactly how the campaign organizer is spending the money. This transparency can help ensure that your money is going to a good cause.
  • You can choose which campaigns to give to. With crowdfunding, you can pick and choose which campaigns you want to support. This allows you to make sure that your donation aligns with your personal values.

The disadvantages of giving through crowdfunding include:

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Disadvantages

  • There’s no guarantee that the campaign will be successful. When you give to a crowdfunding campaign, there’s no guarantee that the campaign will reach its goal. This means that your donation may not go as far as you’d like it to.
  • Your donation may not be tax-deductible. Unlike traditional charities, crowdfunding campaign donations aren’t always tax-deductible. Be sure to check with the campaign organizer before donating to see if it qualifies for a tax deduction.

Giving through charities

The advantages of giving through charities include:

Advantages

  • Your donation is usually tax-deductible. This can help you save money come tax time.
  • Your donation will go to a good cause. When you give to a charity, you can be confident that your money is going to a worthy cause. Charities are required to use donations responsibly, so you can be sure that your money is being put to good use.

The disadvantages of giving through charities include:

Disadvantages

  • Your donation may not be used the way you want it to be. With traditional charities, you may not have much say in how your donation is used. The charity may use your donation for administrative costs or other purposes rather than the specific cause you intended to support.
  • It can be difficult to track how your donation is being used. With traditional charities, it can be difficult to track how your donation is being used. This lack of transparency can make it hard to ensure that your money is going to a good cause.

The best method of giving depends on your personal preferences. Just make sure you weigh the pros and cons before you decide to donate your hard-earned money.

Conclusion

GoFundMe is a great platform for supporting causes that you truly believe in. However, criminals nowadays have found ways to exploit efforts like these for their own selfish gains.

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Knowing the typical characteristics of fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns, and more importantly, understanding what you need to do to stop them from victimizing other people is crucial to making sure that you can use your hard-earned money to support causes that you believe in.

FAQs

Can I get my money back from GoFundMe? ›

GoFundMe Giving Guarantee Policy. For Donors. Donors can request a refund of donations made online via the GoFundMe platform (“Platform”) to a fundraiser. GoFundMe will determine, in its sole and absolute discretion, if misuse or abuse has occured.

Is GoFundMe protected? ›

The GoFundMe Guarantee protects your donation. It takes a leap of faith to help someone else. That's why we make sure to honor your generosity by backing it up with the first and only guarantee for online fundraising. In the rare case that something isn't right, we will refund your donation.

How do you write a GoFundMe letter? ›

How to Write Your GoFundMe Fundraiser Story: 12 Helpful Tips
  1. Get inspiration from great storytellers. ...
  2. Start with a personal introductory. ...
  3. Define the essential pieces of your story. ...
  4. Share the challenges you have faced. ...
  5. Emphasize the turning point that led you to start a GoFundMe. ...
  6. Form a connection with potential donors.
12 Aug 2022

What happens if a GoFundMe is reported? ›

When a fundraiser is reported, the name of the person reporting it is not shared by us with the organizer or beneficiary, unless compelled by law or a concern for the safety of our users or others. Please keep in mind, only fundraisers that violate our terms of service or have a proven misuse of funds will be removed.

Who Controls GoFundMe? ›

With $2 Billion Raised, GoFundMe wants to "Disrupt Giving" By Putting Philanthropy in Our Hands. “GoFundMe is a kickstarter platform for causes," opened Rob Solomon, the company's Founder & CEO.

Does GoFundMe have a customer service number? ›

While GoFundMe does not have a customer service number, our Customer Care team is dedicated to helping through email support.

Who audits GoFundMe? ›

GoFundMe is annually audited by an independent PCI Qualified Security Assessor and complies with all the PCI Data Security Standard requirements.

What is better than GoFundMe? ›

Fundly – Best GoFundMe Alternative for Mobile-First Fundraising. Givebutter – Best GoFundMe Alternative for Donor Management. Bonfire – Best GoFundMe Alternative for T-Shirt Fundraising. Snowball – Best GoFundMe Alternative for Auctions and Events.

Do you need a bank account for GoFundMe? ›

Any account used for bank transfers from GoFundMe must have both a routing and account number. You will also need to be able to provide documentation and verification including: Government issued ID with a name that matches the account holder.

How much does GoFundMe take? ›

So, what percentage does GoFundMe take for transaction fees? A transaction fee of 2.9% +$0.30 is automatically deducted from each donation, so you never have to worry about paying a bill. Learn more about GoFundMe's fees on our pricing page here.

Do you have to pay taxes on a GoFundMe? ›

Donations made to personal GoFundMe fundraisers are generally considered to be "personal gifts" which, for the most part, are not taxed as income in the United States.

Can you find out who Anonymous is on GoFundMe? ›

Making a donation anonymous means your name won't be visible to the public on the fundraiser page. For security reasons, you can't make an entirely anonymous donation, and the organizer and beneficiary will always be able to see your name.

Do you have to claim GoFundMe on taxes? ›

The crowdfunding website or its payment processor may be required to report distributions of money raised if the amount distributed meets certain reporting thresholds by filing Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions, with the IRS.

Why does GoFundMe need my Social Security number? ›

There is a privacy issue with your SSN for Americans to consider. You cannot withdraw money from GoFundMe if you do not provide the platform with your Social Security number. The reason for this involves the responsibilities you have for taxes on the money.

Can I use GoFundMe to buy a car? ›

GoFundMe is a personal crowdfunding platform that you can use to finance a car through donations.

Is GoFundMe legal? ›

GoFundMe is dedicated to empowering people to help people. An overwhelming majority of fundraisers on the site are safe and legitimate, as fraudulent fundraisers make up less than one-tenth of 1% of all fundraisers on GoFundMe.

How do I speak to someone at GoFundMe? ›

How to contact our team: Click the “Get help” button at the bottom of each Help Center article. Enter your question in the box to see potential answers to your question. If your question is still not answered, please complete the short form which provides our team with necessary information.

What percentage does GoFundMe take 2022? ›

GoFundMe Terms & Fees
Funding DurationUnlimited
GoFundMe Fee0%
Funding TermsKeep what you raise (you don't have to meet your goal)
Payment Processing Fee2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

How does GoFundMe verify? ›

To verify your account, you will need to upload documents, such as an ID or bank statement, through your GoFundMe account. Please review this article for more information on uploading documents. If you have already uploaded documents but they haven't been verified, please review this article for additional help.

Does GoFundMe report to IRS? ›

Generally, contributions made to “crowdfunding” campaigns (such as GoFundMe) are considered to be personal gifts, and as such, are not taxed as income to the recipient. The IRS does not consider fundraising proceeds a taxable source of income.

Can you use GoFundMe for personal reasons? ›

We see people use GoFundMe to raise money for themselves, friends and family, or even complete strangers in random acts of kindness. People raise money for just about everything, including medical expenses, education costs, volunteer programs, youth sports, funerals & memorials, and even animals & pets.

Can you use GoFundMe money for anything? ›

Most people use GoFundMe to raise money for things like medical bills, educational expenses, memorials, volunteer trips, youth sports - even animals & pets! The possibilities are endless.

What happens to GoFundMe money if goal not reached? ›

What happens if a GoFundMe page doesn't reach its goal? There is no penalty if a GoFundMe fundraiser does not hit its target amount. All funds donated will still be received. Fundraisers can continue getting donations even after a goal is met for as long as the organizer decides to keep the campaign active.

How long can you keep a GoFundMe? ›

There are no deadlines or limits - each donation you receive is yours to keep. Raising money for yourself or a loved one has never been easier. Plus, we're here to help.

Can I use a fake name on GoFundMe? ›

What's your name? The name you enter will be displayed publicly on the fundraiser page. If you don't want to use your full name, whether for safety or personal reasons, you can enter your chosen name here. Be sure to enter your legal name when it comes time to set up transfers.

What makes a great appeal letter? ›

Printed appeal letters are tangible, empathetic, and powerful touchpoints with your supporters that inspire them to partner and give to your cause. Or at least that's what your appeal letters SHOULD be doing for you.

What is the most read part of a fundraising appeal letter? ›

One study says that 90% will read a P.S. first. Another one says 79% will read it first. Figures vary from researcher to researcher, but you can depend upon your readers looking for a post script before they ever delve into the letter itself. This includes donors!

Is it safe to use debit card on GoFundMe? ›

Your funds are secure

Much like banks, we check to make sure all of the payment account details belong to the person, organization, or non-profit that should be receiving the funds.

How does GoFundMe show up on credit card statement? ›

Our Payment Review team is working around the clock to prevent the unauthorized use of credit and debit cards on GoFundMe. Donations made to GoFundMe fundraisers will appear on your bank statement as: GoFundMe “Fundraiser Title”.

How much does Facebook take from GoFundMe? ›

GoFundMeFacebook
Fast setup and launch24 hr review process for personal fundraisers
Unlimited team membersLimited to three team members
Platform fee0% 2.9% + $0.30 per donation payment processor fee0% 2.6% + $0.30 per donation payment processor fee
Start a GoFundMe
5 more rows

Why does GoFundMe charge a fee? ›

The transaction fee covers the costs of credit and debit charges, safely delivering donations, and helps us offer more ways to donate—through credit, debit, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay (for most fundraisers). This is the only fee deducted on GoFundMe to cover all your fundraising needs.

Why does GoFundMe charge a tip? ›

Donors' voluntary tips are in addition to their donations and are used to help us provide a safe and secure fundraising experience for you and others in our community. Your donation receipt will show a breakdown of your donation to the fundraiser and GoFundMe tip amount.

Where is GoFundMe based? ›

From 2010 to the beginning of 2020, over $9 billion has been raised on the platform, with contributions from over 120 million donors. GoFundMe, Inc. The company is based in Redwood City, California, with offices in San Diego and Dublin, and with operations in France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Does GoFundMe refund money if goal not reached? ›

Plus, with GoFundMe, you keep all the money you raise at the end of your campaign, even if you don't reach your goal. With Kickstarter, on the other hand, the money is returned to your fundraisers if the goal is not reached by the end of the campaign.

How long does it take to get your money from GoFundMe? ›

GoFundMe gets your funds to you quickly because we know that many fundraising needs are time-sensitive. You can set up withdrawals and add your bank account as soon as you accept the campaign organizer's invitation to make you a beneficiary. Bank transfers then take 2-5 business days to arrive.

How long does GoFundMe last? ›

With GoFundMe, the money you collect goes directly to you. There are no deadlines or limits - each donation you receive is yours to keep. Raising money for yourself or a loved one has never been easier.

What percentage does GoFundMe take? ›

GoFundMe charges one transaction fee—that's it. So, what percentage does GoFundMe take for transaction fees? A transaction fee of 2.9% +$0.30 is automatically deducted from each donation, so you never have to worry about paying a bill.

Does GoFundMe have a customer service number? ›

While GoFundMe does not have a customer service number, our Customer Care team is dedicated to helping through email support.

What is better than GoFundMe? ›

Fundly – Best GoFundMe Alternative for Mobile-First Fundraising. Givebutter – Best GoFundMe Alternative for Donor Management. Bonfire – Best GoFundMe Alternative for T-Shirt Fundraising. Snowball – Best GoFundMe Alternative for Auctions and Events.

How do I contact GoFundMe directly? ›

How to contact our team: Click the “Get help” button at the bottom of each Help Center article. Enter your question in the box to see potential answers to your question. If your question is still not answered, please complete the short form which provides our team with necessary information.

Why does GoFundMe need my Social Security number? ›

There is a privacy issue with your SSN for Americans to consider. You cannot withdraw money from GoFundMe if you do not provide the platform with your Social Security number. The reason for this involves the responsibilities you have for taxes on the money.

Does GoFundMe require a bank account? ›

Any account used for bank transfers from GoFundMe must have both a routing and account number. You will also need to be able to provide documentation and verification including: Government issued ID with a name that matches the account holder.

Is reporting a GoFundMe anonymous? ›

You cannot submit an anonymous complaint to GoFundMe. The platform requires you to provide your name and telephone number, as well as the email address associated with your GoFundMe account. GoFundMe will not provide your name or information to the campaign organizer to protect your privacy.

What percentage does GoFundMe take 2022? ›

GoFundMe Terms & Fees
Funding DurationUnlimited
GoFundMe Fee0%
Funding TermsKeep what you raise (you don't have to meet your goal)
Payment Processing Fee2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Can I use a fake name on GoFundMe? ›

What's your name? The name you enter will be displayed publicly on the fundraiser page. If you don't want to use your full name, whether for safety or personal reasons, you can enter your chosen name here. Be sure to enter your legal name when it comes time to set up transfers.

How does GoFundMe verify? ›

To verify your account, you will need to upload documents, such as an ID or bank statement, through your GoFundMe account. Please review this article for more information on uploading documents. If you have already uploaded documents but they haven't been verified, please review this article for additional help.

Do I have to pay taxes on GoFundMe? ›

Donations made to personal GoFundMe fundraisers are generally considered to be "personal gifts" which, for the most part, are not taxed as income in the United States.

What is the most money donated on GoFundMe? ›

April. America's Food Fund becomes the largest GoFundMe of all time, raising over $44 million to help people struggling with food insecurity due to COVID-19.

How much does Facebook take from GoFundMe? ›

GoFundMeFacebook
Fast setup and launch24 hr review process for personal fundraisers
Unlimited team membersLimited to three team members
Platform fee0% 2.9% + $0.30 per donation payment processor fee0% 2.6% + $0.30 per donation payment processor fee
Start a GoFundMe
5 more rows

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