During the giving season, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert for residents to take action against scams before donating to charity.
Bonta joined the Second Harvest of Silicon Valley food pantry organization in San Mateo on Thursday to share tips on how residents can make sure their donations reach the right hands.
“This holiday season, we’re with Second Harvest and organizations across California to deliver an important message: Before you donate to charity this holiday season, be sure to do your research and make sure the charity is legitimate,” Bonta said. “My office is committed to protecting donors from deceptive solicitations.”
Bonta encourages residents to check the registration status of charities, as all professional organizations soliciting donations in California are required to register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and file annual financial reports. Residents can search the registry’s database through the registry verification search tool to see if a charity has followed state requirements and how much of their donations go to people in need.
Residents should also take time to ask questions when on the phone with a pressured telemarketer, Bonta said. Residents should ask basic questions to learn the fundraiser’s name, registration status, and the amount of money that will go to charity before donating.
Some fraudulent charities try to use names that sound similar to well-known charities. Bonta warns residents to be very careful with “look-alike” emails, websites and social media fundraisers.
Residents should also check their receipt and credit card statement after donating online, Bonta said.
Bonta also warned that his office can investigate and take legal action against fraudulent charities.
Residents can report charities or fundraising organizations they believe have acted in bad faith to the Bonta office at oag.ca.gov/charities/complaints.