When you go shopping, an impulse buy may not be a good thing. The same could be said when giving to charities.
A little research can go a long way to protect that gift said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
“What we see this time of year is not only scammers trying to take your money, but being aware how much of your money actually makes it to a charity,” said Wyman.
If you check out the Secretary of State’s website, you can see if the charity is registered in Washington State.
“It’s always in your interest as a consumer to take your time, do your research. Go to the Better Business Bureau, see if there have been complaints filed against that charity,” said Wyman.
I know it’s gets pushy shopping during the holidays, but don’t be afraid to push back when telemarketers call.
“So, if they want a credit card right away or they suggest bringing a courier to you house to pick up a donation that should be a red flag- that they may not be the most legitimate charity or non-profit,” said Wyman.
Other rules for giving:
-Don’t give cash unless you are certain the charity is legit.
-Find out if the charity is a legitimate 501(c)(3) so you can deduct the donation- websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar will have that information and the organizations financials.
-Always keep your receipts.
Finally, Wyman said if you think you’ve been scammed, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office right away.
“They have done a really marvelous job working with our office when fraud or potential fraud occurs. They do the research and then if they do find bad actors that have violated the law they prosecute them,” said Wyman.
You can use the Washington Secretary of State’s website to see if a charity is using a professional fundraiser. If it is, you can find out the percentage of money the fundraiser receives-that is actually going to the charity.