U.S. Attorney General Offers Tips For Donors
- The state attorney general's office is warning Californians to be wary of people soliciting money for the victims of Asia's tsunamis, and has offered tips for people who want to donate.
- Be informed about the charity and how it will spend the money, reports Nathan Barankin, spokesman for the attorney general. Information about a charity's operations and expenditures can be obtained by searching the attorney general's online database for a charity's financial reports.
- Refuse high-pressure appeals by solicitors claiming to represent charities. Legitimate charities do not use those types of tactics to get donations.
- Californians should always ask for written information about the charity's mission, how the donation will be used and proof that the contribution is tax-deductible. Not all donations to charities and nonprofit organizations can be deducted from one's taxes.
- Scam artists might tell donors that they will receive a "tax I.D. number" or a receipt for their records to try to convince them that they are a legitimate charity, but a credit card statement or canceled check is enough for tax purposes if a donation is less than $250. Large donations require a properly worded receipt from the charity to confirm the donation.
- Consumers should call the charity directly. Money should never be given immediately to door-to-door solicitors or by mail.
- Groups that offer to pick up a monetary donation should be regarded with suspicion. Legitimate charities will always have an official address.
- Consumers should also watch out for scam artists using names that sound similar to those of legitimate charities.
- Donations to charities should never be in cash, for tax and security reasons.
There are alternative ways to donate to a charity besides providing money. Donations can be given in charitable gift annuities, in-kind gifts and endowments. Many charities also accept volunteer work.
Source: NBC News