HARRISBURG ― Attorney General Michelle Henry is offering advice on how Pennsylvanians can support causes amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict and avoid being victimized by ill-intentioned solicitors and scammers.
“Pennsylvanians are free to support any organization their hearts desire, but I want to offer some guidance on how you can make sure that support reaches the intended recipients, rather than scammers who exploit opportunity and prey on our collective generosity,” Attorney General Henry said. “On behalf of my office, I am providing three simple steps you can take to protect your hard-earned dollars and donations.”
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General offers these tips:
Step 1 — Ask Questions:
- Where will your donation go specifically? Charities should always be able to give you specific information on what your donation will fund.
- Who is soliciting your donation? Bad actors will try to take advantage of you without providing the name of the organization they represent.
- Ask for the EIN (Employee Identification Number) for U.S.-based charities. Charitable organizations should have this number and provide it to you. The EIN helps simplify IRS searches for charity information.
- Ask whether the fundraising campaign is being conducted by volunteers or paid fundraisers. As well, how much of your donation will be received by the charity?
Step 2 — Double Check:
- Check with the IRS or the Pennsylvania Department of State registries to see if this organization is registered and if donations are tax deductible. In Pennsylvania, the majority of charitable organizations engaged in public fundraising campaigns must register with the Department of State
- While an organization may be registered, it does not mean it is effective. Some charitable organizations use the majority of donations received on their fundraising costs rather than the purpose donors are asked to support. Registration does not imply endorsement. Check nonprofit sites like org, CharityWatch.org, Charitynavigator.org or similar trusted sites that regularly do research on charities.
- Be wary of new charities: organizations that did not exist before and now only exist because of a crisis may not be legitimate.
Step 3 — Be Careful How You Pay:
- Never donate in cash or on your debit card. Credit cards are best.
- Avoid using cryptocurrency, such as BitCoin.
- Never give money without doing your research into the organization first.
- Scammers try to create urgency and pressure when soliciting money – stay calm and do not allow yourself to be pressured by urgent appeals.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact your local police to file a report and file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at: 800-441-2555 https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/scams.
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