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Secretary Hargett warns Tennesseans to be wary of scams during the holiday season

Secretary of State Tre Hargett cautions Tennesseans to be wary of scams as they prepare to make end-of-the-year and holiday-season charitable contributions.

“During the holidays and at the beginning of a new year, many Tennesseans make donations to the charitable causes they support,” said Secretary Hargett. “I encourage everyone to be diligent to make sure a charitable organization is legitimate before writing a check or donating online and we have resources that can help.”

To help Tennesseans avoid charity fraud and maximize their donation’s impact, the Secretary of State’s Division of Business and Charitable Organizations created a Wise Giving Tips video on sos.tn.gov/charities.

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The Wise Giving Tips are:

  • If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, check to see if it’s registered with the State of Tennessee on the Secretary of State’s website sos.tn.gov/charities or by calling 615-741-2555.
  • Take your time. Resist pressure to give on the spot.
  • Ask questions. If an organization has a specific mission, ask how and who will benefit from your donation.
  • If you are asked for a donation via text or email, verify the request is directly from the charity or nonprofit.
  • Do your own research and don’t assume a social media or blog recommendation has been approved by the nonprofit.
  • If you give through an app or website, make sure your donation is going directly to the organization.
  • Avoid giving cash. Always ask for a receipt and if your contribution is tax deductible.
  • Pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization. There are many organizations with similar names.
  • Don’t forget there are many ways to give, such as volunteering your time.
  • If a paid fundraiser asks you for a donation, ask how much is kept by the fundraiser and how much goes to the nonprofit.

All charities must register with the State of Tennessee. To see if a charity is registered, visit sos.tn.gov/charities or call 615-741-2555. A charity that isn’t registered could raise a red flag for potential donors.

The Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and GuideStar are also useful resources for information about charitable organizations. By taking the time to research before giving, donors could prevent their hard-earned dollars from falling into the wrong hands.

Tennesseans are encouraged to report false, misleading or deceptive fundraising activity to the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations at 615-741-2555.

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