During the giving season, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert urging residents to take action against scams before donating.
Bonta joined the Silicon Valley food pantry organization Second Harvest in San Mateo on Thursday to share tips on how residents can ensure their donations reach the right hands.
“This holiday season, we join forces with Second Harvest and organizations across California to deliver an important message: Before you donate this holiday season, be sure to do your research and make sure the donation is legitimate,” Bonta said. “My office is committed to protecting donors from deceptive requests.”
Bonta encourages residents to check the registration status of charitable entities, as California requires all professional organizations soliciting donations 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 what portion of their donations go to those in need.
Bonta said residents should also take the time to ask questions when on the phone with a pushy telemarketer. Before donating, residents should ask basic questions to learn the fundraiser’s name, registration status, and amount to be donated.
Some fraudulent charities try to use names that sound similar to well-known charities. Bonta warned residents to be very wary of “look-alike” emails, websites and social media fundraisers.
Bonta said residents should also check their receipt and credit card statement after donating online.
Bonta also warned that his office could investigate and take legal action against the fraudulent charities.
Residents may report charities or fundraising organizations they believe have acted in bad faith to the BONTA office at oag.ca.gov/charities/complaints.