The state attorney general’s office offers this advice for evaluating charitable solicitations:
- Ask for written information, including how much of the money raised is used for charitable purposes and how much will go to a professional fundraiser or to administrative expenses.
- Be careful with telemarketer solicitations; many times telemarketers keeps a substantial portion of the donation.
- Be sure the organization actually serves the need it claims.
- Ask for financial statements to determine who will benefit.
- Check what the charity’s exact name is. Scam artists often use names that sound familiar to reputable charities.
- Get the charity’s registration number with the state secretary of state.
- Ask whether the charity operates nationally and what its national office address is. Ask whether it has a local office, as well.
- Ask whether the donation is tax-deductible.
- Search for the charity online and look for complaints by other consumers.
- Check the charity’s website and read about its programs.
- Search for information about the charity at http://bbb.org/charity and http://www.kscharitycheck.org.
- When making a donation, send a check; do not give out credit card or bank information.
Warning signs include:
- The solicitor pressures you into giving money immediately. Real charities can afford to wait a few days or weeks while a donor makes sure everything is OK.
- The solicitor refuses to provide basic information such as the charity’s name and address.
- The donation is associated with a contest, sweepstakes, or raffle that sounds too good to be true.
- The solicitor requests cash or credit card information but won’t accept a check.
- The solicitor won’t accept a mailed check and instead sends someone to pick it up.
- Anyone who thinks he or she has been the victim of a scam should file a complaint with the attorney general’s office.