Tips for donating during the holidays and everyday

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

It's the season for giving and many people open their hearts and their wallets--giving to those in need. Tough times means donations are down for many charities, so the money they do get is extremely important. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office says it's also important your money gets to the charity it's intended to reach.  The Attorney General's office is reminding consumers to be alert and avoid giving to phony causes.

Here are a few things to remember:

Give only to reputable organizations that are well established;

Be careful! Many organizations use names that sound similar to larger, more established charities Always get as much information, in writing, as possible before donating;

Contact a charitable organization directly by phone or web site if you wish to make a donation;

When asked to give money over the phone, the law requires that the fundraiser disclose, upon request, how much of your donation goes to the charity, and how much is kept by the fundraiser.  However, consumers cannot rely on these disclosures.  Consumers should decline all telephone solicitations until the consumer has independently verified the legitimacy of the charitable organization;

Like with any telemarketing call--don't give out  personal info like social security numbers or credit card numbers;

Never provide personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited email--even if it's about a charity.  A common charity scam involves spamming consumers, asking them to donate to a bogus organization that purports to help those in need.  The email directs the consumer to a seemingly legitimate web site, where they can use a credit card to make a contribution.  Unfortunately, the money does not go to needy people, but to the scam artist, who then has all the information needed to steal the consumer's identity.

McDaniel's office adds if you want to maximize the beneficial effect of your donation, give directly to charitable organizations in your community--like a food bank.

Click on the link associated with this story for help researching an organization.

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