Volume 4 Number 47
November 23, 2007

DON'T BECOME A VICTIM OF CHARITY FRAUD

It is getting to be that time of year again. This is the season of giving, and many people are considering making charitable donations. Nobody wants to waste their money by donating to a scam. Here are some tips to remember.

Beware of “look-alike charities” which may have a very similar name as a large established charity. Be careful so you are not fooled into thinking that you have donated to a legitimate charity instead of to a bogus charity that is not legitimate.

There is a free resource in Florida that provides excellent information designed to help guide you in making your decision. If you wish to make a contribution, be a smart financial consumer by getting the facts. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOAC) provides detailed financial information about the charitable organization’s use of donated money. Every organization that is soliciting for donations in Florida must be listed in the State of Florida’s Gift Giver’s Guide. If the charity is not listed in the guide, don’t donate!

The guide is very easy to use and reflects what percentage of donations actually go to the cause. You want to see that the percentage of the donations that cover administration and fund-raising costs is very low in comparison. You should carefully consider whether it is your desire to donate to an organization that uses a very high percentage of the money towards paying for its own existence, rather than contributing to the cause itself.

You can check it out by searching the FL Gift Givers Guide using full or partial name of the charity. It is available for free by calling DOAC at 1-800-435-7352, for a hard copy to be mailed to you; or it is also located online at http://app1.800helpfla.com/giftgiversguide/.