How to avoid charity scams on “Giving Tuesday”

Today is “Giving Tuesday” – a day dedicated to charitable giving as the holiday season begins, so here are some tips on how to avoid a scam. 

If you plan on making a donation today or at any point, the Secretary of State’s Office wants to make sure that you’re giving to a registered charity. 

Mississippians donating to those in need this holiday season can research critical financial and other information about charities on the Secretary of State’s website.

“Our citizens are the most giving in the Nation, and many choose to donate this time of year,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said. “We want to be a resource to make sure those generous donations reach those who need them and are not subject to fraud.”

General tips for consumers considering donating to a charity include:

  • Ask for the charity’s name, website, and physical location;
  • Ask how much of any donation will go to the charitable program you want to support;
  • Check the Secretary of State’s website to see whether the charity is registered in Mississippi;
  • Search the charity’s name online with the word “scam” or “complaint.” See what other people say about it;
  • Check out the charity’s report and ratings at the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Guidestar;
  • Use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation is tax-deductible;
  • Never pay with cash, a gift card, or by wiring money; and
  • Consider paying by credit card, but never over the phone, and only after receipt of written information you can verify.

Consumer organizations recommend at least 65 percent of a charity’s total expenses be spent on program activities directly related to the charity’s purpose.

Charities soliciting funds in Mississippi must be registered with the Secretary of State’s Office.  Each year, the Agency publishes a Report on Charitable Organizations in Mississippi.  The report outlines the financial information of charities registered in the State, including the percentage of charitable funds actually spent by a charity for its charitable purpose.

For more information, call the Charities Division at (601) 359-1599 or visit www.sos.ms.gov/charities.