ORLANDO, Fla. — Tomorrow, Nov. 29, is Giving Tuesday, a global movement that inspires millions of people to give to charitable causes and help those in need.
To help consumers give safely, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried is providing consumers with tips to donate safely and avoid charity scammers.
The FDACS regulates charitable organizations in the Sunshine State.
“A key part of the work we do at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is protecting Florida consumers and regulating charities,” said Fried. “On this Giving Tuesday, we encourage individuals to review our list of best practices to avoid scams and sham charities so that your generosity can reach the people and causes you’re so kindly supporting.”
Here are some tips for consumers to give safely:
· Don’t respond to high-pressure tactics. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation whenever you choose to make it.
· Check if the organization is properly registered with the state through our Check-a-Charity tool or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-FL-AYUDA en Español). You can also review information about how much the charity is spending on administration and fundraising, and how much money goes to programming.
· Search the organization’s name online along with keywords like “complaint” and “scam.” Also, look for reviews and feedback about the organization. Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding campaigns are legitimate — even posts that are shared or liked by your friends.
· Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails, texts, Facebook, or Twitter fundraising messages. They can unleash malware.
· Ask how much of your donation will go to cover administrative costs like overhead and fundraising expenses. Every charitable organization will have operating expenses, but Wise Giving Alliance recommends that at least 65% of a charity’s total expenses should go directly to serving its mission.
· Verify whether your donation is tax-deductible since only certain organizations are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Ask for the organization’s tax-exempt number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Donations to individuals are not tax-deductible. Remember that crowdfunding campaigns are not tax deductible.
· Always obtain and save a printed copy of your donation or a receipt showing the amount of the contribution.
· Pay with a credit card or check to be safe. Do not donate in cash, by gift card, or by wire transfer — these forms of payment lack any security measures, making them appealing to scammers.
· Don’t give personally identifying information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account number to charitable solicitors.
If you have concerns or questions about charities, you can file a complaint or find answers at FloridaConsumerHelp.com.
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