Charity Car Donation Scams – How To Spot Them, How To Avoid Them

When you say to yourself “I want to donate my car to charity”, you’re making a truly generous gesture. Give to the right charity and you will be getting an old car off your hands and funding important programs that help people in your area. You could be helping a lower income person get affordable transportation, and if you itemize your taxes you can also claim a nice charity tax deduction.

Unfortunately, “I want to donate my car to charity” can also be the first thought that leads to becoming prey to a car donation scam. These scammers tell you the money goes to charity, when often they pocket up to 90% of the money raised from your donation. Or they could create their own charity and staff it with family and friends. Or they might even just take your car.

New charity car donation scams are popping up every day — how does a generous person donate their car to charity and avoid scammers? Here are a few tips:

1: Before you donate, check the charity out with the Better Business Bureau or If the organization you are thinking of donating to has a negative listing, or worse, no listing at all, don’t donate to them.

2: Avoid middlemen. Most car donation scammers are middlemen. You can recognize them because they aren’t associated with any specific charity, and may give you the choice of what charity you want your donation to benefit. When you donate to a middleman, the charity gets much less of your donation – sometimes as little as 10%.

3: Donating directly – that’s the cure for the middleman charity car donation programs. You should only donate your car to a charity you trust that runs its own car donation program.

4: Request a copy of the IRS letter that grants the organization 501(c)(3) status. 5: Make certain that when you hand over your car to the tow truck company, you ask for a receipt. 6: If you have any doubt about the organization you’re thinking about donating to, call the IRS and check them out.

Firefighter and police charity car donation scams are in their own class. Most civic-minded people want to help the the good folks who serve and protect us. Scammers are prepared to take full advantage of that.

When asked to donate a car, truck or other vehicle to a police or firefighter organization, follow these rules to avoid scams: 1: Don’t be in a hurry. Ask for a brochure or a website so you can check out the organization name, address and the group they support. Then you will also be able to see if they are a local, state or national organization.

2: Pick up the phone and call your local police or fire station to ask questions about the organization. If they tell you the charity is legitimate, it’s legitimate. 3: Always ask how much of your donation will be going to help the police or firefighters. If the number seems too low, stay away.

Of course the best way to avoid car donation scams when you have an old car, unused truck or any other vehicle you’d like to donate to charity, is to donate it to Volunteers of America right here at

Unlike middleman charity car donation organizations, when you donate a car at, 100% of your money stays with Volunteers of America, and 88% is used for locally run programs that help people. is the car donation program of Volunteers of America, one of the oldest and most respected charities in the nation. Volunteers of America helps millions of people a year coast to coast through locally run programs supported in part by donated vehicles. For well over a hundred years VOA has been a leader in helping children at risk, homeless men, women and families, veterans and senior services. Whether you’re looking to donate a car in Washington DC, are thinking I want to donate a car in Michigan, want to donate a car in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware, or are looking to donate a car in Virginia, Maryland or Nevada, just click here to donate a car, or call us toll free at 877-721-4862.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jay Reynolds March 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm

It’s sad that people try to prey on the goodwill of others. It is more important then ever to do your research and make sure that you are making your car donation to a legitimate charity. Have you ever been scammed while donating to charity?


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