SACRAMENTO – The first annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week is Oct. 22-28, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has issued some tips for consumers.
The coordinated international campaign is designed to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and to promote safe and wise donations.
Throughout the week, Becerra will share tips on charitable giving, and provide information on forms of charity fraud and how to build preemptive defenses for all affected.
“Charities and the generosity of individuals supporting them provide important services in California – from scholarships for future leaders to health programs for veterans,” Becerra said.
“However, actions by unscrupulous individuals undermine support for these nonprofit causes and threaten services,” he said. “It is important for potential donors and charities to protect themselves. We will do everything we can to provide the community with tools to prevent fraud. And, if cons and cheats try to capitalize on the generosity of the giving community, we will hold these scam artists accountable.
“I encourage anyone who has been a victim of a charitable giving scam to file a complaint through my office’s website, www.oag.ca.gov, or call 800-952-5225,” Becerra said.
Charities represent an important economic sector in California. At any given time, there are approximately 135,000 charitable organizations registered with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts.
In 2017, these registered charities reported total revenues of over $236 billion and total assets of almost $905 billion. As the official with the primary responsibility for supervising charities, Attorney General Becerra recognizes the importance in protecting the sanctity of charity work, while also raising consumer confidence.
Attorney General Becerra offers guidance to help Californians make important personal decisions on charitable giving. These resources include the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors and searchable databases to learn about specific charities and charitable fundraising professionals in the state.
In addition to the guide, Attorney General Becerra offers a number of important donation tips for consumers to protect themselves, including:
* Check the charity’s registration status at www.oag.ca.gov/charities.
* Give to organizations you trust.
* Ask for written materials on the organization.
* Don’t be pressured by telemarketers and ask questions.
* Be vigilant in your research when donating after natural disasters or tragedies.
* Watch out for similar-sounding names.
* Know the difference between “tax-exempt” nonprofit and “tax-deductible”.
* Consider the costs of gifts that you receive and merchandise available for purchase.
* Protect your personal information.
* File a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.oag.ca.gov/charities.
* Be cautious of “look-alike” websites.
* Know where your donation is going.
* Protect your email inbox and watch out for scammers.
* Research the charity yourself, regardless of social media recommendations.
* Be wary of social network fundraising.