How to Steer Clear of Car Donation Scams

Looking for tips on how to avoid car donation scams and do the most good you can with your donation? We’ve got you covered.

avoid car donation scams

Donating your vehicle is a great way to help your favorite charities. Vehicle donations can be incredibly beneficial to trustworthy charities, and grant you a tax deduction. However, there are fraudulent organizations out there, looking to capitalize on your goodwill and generosity. 

Here at Car Donation Wizard, we have been keeping donors informed since our blog began back in 2010. Unfortunately, not all charities — or donation companies — are created equal. There are fraudulent organizations out there, so it’s best to do a little research before handing over your vehicle.

To make sure you’re covered, and your car donation helps the charity you want to benefit, follow these easy steps.

How to Avoid Car Donation Scams

  • Research the organization.

    • Some nonprofits spend more money on their board members’ lavish lifestyles than on charitable work. Charity Navigator is an excellent resource for looking into the charity.
    • Look into the donation company that the charity works with. If you’re constantly hearing radio jingles and driving past endless billboards, you have to wonder how much money actually goes to charity…
    • Car Donation Wizard’s charity car donation programs return the highest percentage of the gross dollar from each vehicle donation to your charity. 
  • Don’t fall for flashy gifts or vacations in exchange for your car.

    • If they are bribing you for your car, how much money is left over for the charity?
    • The amount that you can claim depends on how much your vehicle sells for, minus any goods or services given to you in exchange; if an organization is promising you that you can claim the fair market value of your car….you may want to ask a few more questions.
    • Consult the IRS’ Guide to Vehicle Donation or reach out to one of our representatives at 877-999-2322.
  • Sign your title.

    • Car Donation Wizard has detailed and color-coded instructions on how to sign over your state-specific title, from Alaska to Wyoming, and all 48 states in between!
    • The title is the deed to your car, and if you leave it unsigned, you are leaving the door open for liabilities and headaches. If you have any questions about how or where to sign on a title, our trained representatives are a  phone call away 

Make sure you know who is taking your car, and the work that they do. It is shameful that some con artists take advantage of people who only wish to be generous, so it’s best to make sure you have all the knowledge to make an informed donation, and avoid car donation scams.


Returns to charity, information to know before making a car donation

A charity has a responsibility to best manage your donation. Before making a donation of any kind, ask how much of the gross proceeds will go to the charity. If the organization will only list the percentage of net, then your donation could be largely wasted. Several published reports have clearly established that most car donation programs return between 15 and 35% of the gross back to the charity, but they report it as 50 to 70% of the net. This could mean the difference between the charity of your choice receiving $1,000 or receiving $150. CarDonationWizard will return between 75% and 80% of the gross back to the charity of your choice. Learn more by calling our customer service team at 855-957-2277 or visit us online at


Making Vehicle Donation Easy

If you’ve got questions on the vehicle donation process, we’ve got answers. Car donation is as simple as submitting a vehicle contribution form via the web OR over the phone (877-709-2277), whichever is convenient for you. It takes just a few minutes and some basic information about the vehicle you choose to donate. Before you know it your car donation will be one of the many reasons you bring a smile to a family in need.

Once your contribution form is complete you can simply return the required forms to our processing center. Your vehicle information is then assessed and we choose the best path in order to get your vehicle’s highest possible return. You will be contacted by one of our fast and courteous towing facilities closest to your area where arrangements are then made to schedule a pickup. We stay in contact with you, the donor, throughout this process.  Once your vehicle is picked up and sold, you will receive a receipt stating your deduction amount. This receipt can be used in conjunction with your income tax. We strive to bring the best customer service and make this process as smooth as possible.

For more information on our charitable partners click here.

Cars for Homes


Car Donation Tax Deductions: Tax Day

With the 2012 filing deadline today, we thought it might be helpful to describe how car donations and tax deductions work to your benefit.

For questions not answered here, please feel free to call us at: 877-957-2277.

If you donated a car in 2012 to a charity featured on Car Donation Wizard, such as: Habitat for Humanity, Car Talk, NPR, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, American Cancer Society or any of our other great partners, you were provided with a tax deductible receipt listing the gross selling price for your vehicle. Any 501(c)(3) charity (re: reputable charity), will provide you with a tax deducible receipt for your donation. Based on tax laws, the IRS states that you are eligible to deduct the fair market value of your donated vehicle.

It’s good practice to always consult a tax adviser or the IRS for more information about how you can claim charitable deductions for your vehicle donation. The IRS can answer your tax questions and can provide tax forms, publications, and other reading materials for further assistance. IRS materials are accessible through the Internet at, through telephone ordering at (800) 829-3676, and at IRS walk-in offices in many areas across the country.

Tax Related Car Donation Help Links

If you have additional question about deductions and IRS Regulations the following links may be of assistance:

IRS Publication 4303, A Donor’s Guide to Car Donations (PDF)
Publication 526, Charitable Contributions (PDF)
Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property (PDF)
Form 8283 Non cash Charitable Contributions (PDF)
Instructions for Form 8283, Non cash Charitable Contributions (PDF)


Valentine’s Day Inspired Car Donations

donate a red car

This Valentine’s Day, we thank all of our donors who have lovingly donated a vehicle to one of Car Donation Wizard’s amazing charities over the years.

We do not take it lightly that for some households, a car donation may be the single largest charitable gift made during the year, or ever. This is all the more reason to make sure that the donation you make is being used for the greatest charitable benefit. We strive to earn your charity the most money and you the largest tax deduction for your donation. Call us anytime (855-957-2277) to talk about the average proceeds we return (around 80% of every vehicle sold go back to the charity) and how that organization uses the proceeds (renovating or rebuilding homes with Habitat, cancer research with American Cancer Society, school-in-a-box kits for UNICEF, and more!). We hope you’ll share your experience donating with us and even consider volunteering with your charity to really see how your car donation dollars are being used.

Happy Valentines Day!