145. 'Tis The Season
By Andrew D. Wright
With the holiday season approaching, thoughts turn to the less fortunate.
Giving to a charity is a good way to help out but watch out for scammers.
Real charities do not need to rush your donation. If they're in a hurry
for you to donate or will send a courier right over, be suspicious.
Genuine charities will be ready and eager to give you information like
their physical address, phone number, and business hours. They will have
no issue with you verifying this information before making a donation.
A scam artist may be using VOIP (voice over internet protocol) as cheap
long distance from an illegal call center somewhere else and not have this
information handy or try to dissuade you from using the real information.
Canadian charities are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA
website lists all Canadian charities complete with past tax returns.
Revoked, suspended, penalized and annuled charities are listed there. A
charity can be looked up by name or by its registration number. Official
tax receipts must include this registration number and the CRA website
Be wary of charities that claim to offer larger tax receipts than the
amount donated. If you get something back for your donation, such as free
tickets to an event, the value (which CRA calls an advantage) must be
deducted from the donation amount on the tax receipt by the charity.
Charities are not required to issue tax receipts but they must tell
potential donors in advance under what circumstances they won't issue a
Scammers may use fake charity names that are easily mistaken for real,
legitimate charities. Confirming the identity of the charity is easy to
do, look them up in the phone book and call them. Remember not to accept
anything the voice on the phone or the email says at face value. Look up
the information yourself.
If you are donating to a charity on their website, check the name on the
secure site certificate and make sure that its details match the charity.
Click on the padlock that appears when on the secure site to see the
secure certificate. On Internet Explorer it will be next to the address
bar, while in Firefox it will be at the bottom of the Firefox window.
A real site certificate will give no errors and the organization name will
be in the certificate information when you click on View Certificate.
Extra security EV-SSL certificates will turn the address bar bright green
on all current web browsers and show the verified legal name of the
Two local charities which both work to bridge the digital divide and help
people on fixed incomes are reBOOT Nova Scotia and the Chebucto Community
reBOOT Nova Scotia helps provide free and low cost computers to people
based on their needs. They accept donations of used computers (call first
to let them know what you have) and money. Parts that are too old can be
recycled and the rest can be restored. They offer new-to-you Pentium 4
level computers to the public for $100 - $225 and free or heavily
discounted computers to qualifying individuals based on their
circumstances. reBOOT Nova Scotia is an affiliate of reBOOT Canada.
Chebucto Community Net is the oldest Internet provider in the province and
one of the first community nets in Canada. It provides internet
connectivity and free and low cost web hosting and services for people,
community groups and small businesses bringing many of them online for the
first time. A registered charity and volunteer-run organization, CCN
accepts donations of money and volunteer time.
Seasons Greetings to Mousepad readers and best wishes for 2009!
Canada Revenue Agency:
reBOOT Nova Scotia:
Chebucto Community Net:
The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community
Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about
computing, email email@example.com or
click here. If we use your question
in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.
Originally published 18 December 2008