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Protect yourself from fake charities and fundraisers

OLYMPIA, Wash., December 11, 2021 – ’Tis the season — for happy holidays, charitable giving…and scammers.

The Office of the Secretary of State is encouraging people to “give smart” this holiday season to help them ensure their charitable donations go to their intended causes.

GIVESMART!, a collaboration between the Office of the Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities division and the state’s Attorney General’s office, empowers people to make informed and educated giving decisions.

GIVESMART! offers resources that can help Washingtonians, as well as senior centers, retirement communities, and civic and nonprofit organizations, protect themselves from being victimized by fake charities and fundraisers.

Resources include an Info Sheet and Trifold Brochure for quick and easy pointers; Telephone Questions Guide and Charities Contact Info magnets; a Questions for Telephone Solicitations checklist; and others.

Also available is a new Guide for Online Giving, which helps people understand how online charities and donations work, and how best to ensure their donations go directly to their designated charities or nonprofits. To request hardcopies of the guide and other GIVESMART! resources at no charge, or to request an in-person presentation for your organization, call the Charities division at 800-332-4483 or visit sos.wa.gov/charities/givesmart.

The Office of the Secretary of State offers these GIVESMART! tips for people to consider before they donate to any charity or fundraiser.

  • Do not give in to high-pressure solicitations demanding an immediate commitment.
  • Check the Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System before donating.
  • If an organization is registered, review its annual registration, including its federal tax-exempt status and financial information. If the organization is not registered, contact the Charities division at 800-332-4483.
  • Check the organization’s Better Business Bureau rating at Give.org.
  • If a third party is raising money for a charity, call the charity directly to make sure it authorized the solicitor to collect donations on its behalf.
  • Do not give any personal information over the phone to any charity, and do not give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you did not expect.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission offers additional tips here. Visit sos.wa.gov/charities or call 800-332-4483 for more information. To file a complaint against a suspicious charity or fundraiser, go to atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.

Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.

Content Source: Secretary of State Press Release

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