The holiday shopping season kicked off with Black Friday, rolled into Cyber Monday, and it's still going on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28.
While the wallets are open, scammers are sure to abound and California Attorney General Rob Bonta gave some tips to help navigate the giving season.
With telemarketer calls and social media posts asking for donations and just trying to pick what organization to give to, being cautious, doing research, and not being pressured are all part of the giving process.
When telemarketers call, Bonta warned not to fall for those pressure tactics or threats. "Remember, you have the right to decline a donation request and can hang up," Bonta said. He cautioned of websites and emails that use slightly different web addresses, URLs, or email addresses in order to appear to be a legitimate charity.
After picking a cause that is meaningful to you, it is recommended to thoroughly investigate the charity or organization of choice before giving your hard-earned dollars. Bonta recommended going with an organization you know and trust, and if your're unsure, there are sites like charitywatch.org and charitynavigator.org that help.
Charity Watch calls itself "America's charity watchdog organization" and lists organizations on their website with graded ratings, with one part of the grade based on the amount of funds spent on programs relative to overhead.
Bonta also recommended the official Registry of Charitable Trusts registry search tool, which allows a search of a registry's database and can verify if a charitable organization or fundraiser has complied with the Attorney General's registration and reporting requirements.
And if you believe that a charity or fundraiser is fraudulent, the Attorney General is asking to report it immediately at oag.ca.gov/charities/complaints.
Tips for charitable giving from Attorney General Rob Bonta:
- Check the registration status on the CA DOJ website
- Give to organizations you trust
- Don't be pressured by telemarketers and ask questions before donating
- Be cautious of "look-alike" and fake websites and emails
- Watch out for similar-sounding names and other deceptive tactics
- Be wary of peer-to-peer social network fundraising
- Protect your identity
- Be careful when making electronic donations
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