Vermont Business Magazine As Vermonters participate in Giving Tuesday and share their generosity, they should be mindful of charity scams. With the increase in donation requests this time of year, consumers should take the time they need to research a charity before they generously give. The Vermont Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program can help Vermonters avoid common charity scams by offering tips to help consumers before they answer the phone, mail a check, or submit an online gift.
“Giving Tuesday is a great day to give, but given the prevalence of scams I want Vermonters to make sure they don’t get ripped off,” said Attorney General Donovan. “If you get a call, letter, or email pressuring you to donate, make sure you are asking questions about how your donation will be used. When in doubt, contact the Consumer Assistance Program for more information.”
If you have concerns about how your donation will be used or the tactics by which it is being solicited, research the cause before donating. Here are three tips to help you avoid common charity scams:
- Utilize helpful websites like Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s Giving Wise Alliance (BBB) for information on charities. Charity Navigator pulls its information from charities’ IRS tax documents and the BBB has an accreditation program for charities.
- Double-check solicitation mailing addresses and phone numbers, even with charities you may regularly contribute to. If receiving a solicitation by phone, consider asking the fundraiser to mail the solicitation so that you can check the contact information. If the mailing address and phone number do not pass this verification test, contact the charity directly.
- Look for paid fundraiser information. A paid fundraiser is a third-party solicitation company that, aside from the fundraising campaign, is not affiliated with the charity. This means a portion of the funds raised is split between the charity and the soliciting business. Vermonters can ask if a third-party fundraiser is involved. The Attorney General’s Office keeps a record of paid fundraisers registered in our state. All Vermonters can look to see how funds are allocated between the paid fundraiser under the charities section on our website. This information can also be requested by contacting the Consumer Assistance Program at 800-649-2424.
For more information, check out our blog post, “Tips for the Charitable Giving Season” or visit the Attorney General’s website at ago.vermont.gov/cap. To speak with a consumer advisor directly, call the Consumer Assistance Program at 800-649-2424.
Source: Vermont Attorney General 12.2.2019