Don’t let the Grinch Steal Your Generosity This Holiday Season
PHOENIX – With the season of giving underway and Giving Tuesday on December 3, 2019, Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants to make sure Arizonan's charitable giving doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
“The holiday season brings out the best in most people, but there are always a few who are looking to take advantage of other's generosity," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "Arizonans need to take precautions and do their homework before donating to any charity.”
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has taken legal action against fraudulent charities in the past. In 2015, AGO shut down a fake veterans telemarketing scam that targeted vulnerable seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related disorders. AGO also helped shut down phony cancer charities that bilked millions of dollars from donors nationwide.
Attorney General Brnovich offers the following tips to avoid charity scams:
- Don't give on impulse. Be cautious of high-pressure requests for donations.
- Do your homework. Ask for written information (including annual reports) about the charity before you donate. Find out how your donation is distributed and how much of your donation will actually go to the charity itself (compared to administrative costs). You can also use websites like charitynavigator.org to read important reports.
- Avoid giving cash. Donate by credit card or by a check that is payable to the charity, not to an individual. Mail the check directly to the charity.
- Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes these sound-alike names are simply intended to confuse donors.
- If you receive an email or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity and not an imposter by contacting the charity directly.
- Never provide personal or financial information to a solicitor over the phone or at your front door.
- Know the difference between “tax-deductible” and “tax-exempt.” Even if an organization is tax-exempt, your donation may not be tax-deductible. Recently, AGO helped pass Senate Bill 1077 that makes it illegal to claim a donation is tax-deductible if it’s not or that a donation is going to a nonprofit if it’s not.
- Don’t give unless you confirm the authenticity of the campaign.
- Giving on GoFundMe generally isn’t tax-deductible.
- GoFundMe typically takes about 2.9% of each donation.
- Check how the funds will be distributed. Unfortunately, it is common for people to set up GoFundMe fundraisers after highly publicized events, and then disappear with the money without giving the funds to their intended recipients.
If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. If you need a complaint form sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.