MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Whether it's from the mail, from a television ad or from the street corner, charity requests can be persuasive. Aggressive. Really tugging at your heartstrings.
Don't let your emotions rule how and to whom you donate.
"Tennesseans have big hearts and are always ready to help in time of need, but that can make them easy targets for people who want to profit from others' misfortunes," said Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Consumer Protection Director Cynthia Wiel. "By staying informed of the latest scams and researching an organization before giving, you can help ensure your hard-earned money goes where you intended."
- You should never be rushed or feel pressured to make a donation. Always take your time to research a charitable organization.
- Check to see if the organization is registered with the Secretary of State’s office at http://tnsos.org/charitable/CharitableOrgReports.php.
- In Mississippi and Arkansas, check with your respective state's secretary of state office.
- Conduct an online search of the organization name.
- Check with the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance to see charity reports.
- Remember, even if you are registered on the National or State Do Not Call Registry, charities may still contact you.
- If you didn’t initiate contact, avoid giving personal or financial information over the phone.
- Avoid paying in cash or by wire transfer. These payment options give you little to no fraud protection
- Be cautious of look-alike websites. These fraudulent websites will often ask for personal or financial information over an unsecured connection or may download harmful malware into your computer. Look for a padlock symbol or “https” before the web address indicating that it is secure.
- Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media platforms or blogs have already been vetted. Research the charity yourself.
- Find out what percentage of your donation will go to the charity and whether you will be charged any fees for making a donation through the fundraising platform website.
- Be cautious when looking to give to charities that pop up soon after a tragedy or natural disaster.
- If purchasing merchandise from a business claiming the proceeds will go towards a charity or fund, look into the company and ensure they are a trustworthy business.
- Not all crowd-funding campaigns are set up with good intentions. If you’re not sure where the funds will go when the campaign is over, look for an alternative way to donate.