Attorney General Stein’s November Column: Make Your Donations Count this Holiday Season

Protecting North Carolinians from Holiday Donation Scams

As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of giving is in the air. North Carolinians are gearing up to support charities and non-profit organizations that make a difference in their communities. However, amidst this season of generosity, scammers are lurking, ready to take advantage of people’s goodwill. Attorney General Stein urges individuals to exercise caution and ensure their donations make a genuine impact. In his November column, he provides valuable tips to help donors avoid falling victim to holiday donation scams.

1: Researching the Organization

To ensure your money reaches its intended destination, it is crucial to research the organization you plan to donate to. Attorney General Stein advises North Carolinians to verify the legitimacy of a charity or non-profit by checking its license with the Secretary of State or contacting the Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. Additionally, resources like the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and GuideStar provide ratings and historical information about charities.

2: Beware of Unsolicited Communications

Scammers often use unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages to deceive potential donors. Attorney General Stein advises individuals to exercise caution when responding to such messages, even if they appear legitimate. Instead, donors should proactively reach out to the causes or charities they wish to support, ensuring direct contact with the organization.

3: Social Media and Crowdfunding Scams

With the rise of crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, scammers have found new avenues to exploit people’s generosity. Attorney General Stein cautions donors to thoroughly research the organizers of crowdfunding campaigns before contributing. Verifying the organizer’s identity and ensuring the funds will reach the intended recipients is crucial. Any inconsistencies or lack of online presence should raise red flags, prompting potential donors to withhold their contributions.

4: Secure Payment Methods

Attorney General Stein emphasizes the importance of using secure payment methods when making donations. Credit cards offer security and maintain a clear record for tax purposes. On the other hand, scammers often request wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, as these transactions are difficult to dispute. Donors should be wary of any requests for alternative payment methods and ensure their contributions are made directly to the charity, not an intermediary.

5: Avoid Pressure Tactics

Scammers may employ pressure tactics to coerce individuals into making immediate donations. Attorney General Stein advises potential donors to resist such pressure and take the time to make an informed decision. Legitimate charities will never rush or pressure individuals into giving. It is always best to reach out to the chosen charity directly to ensure the donation process is secure and transparent.

Conclusion:

As the holiday season approaches, Attorney General Stein urges North Carolinians to exercise caution when making charitable donations. By researching organizations, avoiding unsolicited communications, being wary of social media and crowdfunding scams, using secure payment methods, and resisting pressure tactics, individuals can ensure their donations make a genuine impact. Let this season be one of generosity and compassion, free from the grasp of scammers. If anyone falls victim to a scam, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office. Together, let us make our donations count and bring joy to those who truly need it.


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