Washingtonians are incredibly generous people. Many of us give money to help those in need. Unfortunately, people can be victimized by scammers if they aren't careful to their homework before giving to a charity.
Charity scams skyrocket during the holidays, and according to the AARP, seniors 65 and older are especially targeted by solicitors, and should take extra care to research where their donations are going. Follow these tips to avoid scams and give your money wisely this holiday season.
Ask the person soliciting the donation who they work for. If they work for a commercial fundraiser instead of the charity itself, the chances are that a large portion of any money you give them will go to the commercial fundraiser and not the charity. In this case, it's a better idea to donate directly to the charity.
Don't give into high-pressure solicitations that demand you to make an instant commitment. It's not rude to just walk away or hang up in these situations.
If you do decide to donate to a charity, do your research and get as much information about the charity as you can, before giving.
Check to see if the charity you are considering giving to is registered with the Washington Secretary of State at www.sos.wa.gov.
Write a check and make it payable directly to the charity. Never send cash or give your credit card or bank number.
If you have any concerns about a charity of commercial fundraiser, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Resource Center weekdays between 10am and 3pm at 1-800-551-4636. You can also file a complaint online at www.atg.wa.gov.
Sign up for the Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org.fraudwatchnetwork or by calling 800-646-2283. When you join the Fraud Watch Network, you'll receive alerts and notifications about new scams as they emerge.