There's Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and now "Giving Tuesday." A global day dedicated to giving back to the community, Giving Tuesday encourages people to volunteer or make a monetary donation to their favorite charity. Before opening up their wallets, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is urging people to do their homework on their charity of choice.
"It's important to think not just with our hearts, but also with our heads this time of year. The generosity of many Rhode Islanders enables others to have a happy holiday season, but before handing over a donation, it is important to do your research, ask questions about the organization's track record, and how your money will be spent," said Attorney General Kilmartin
Before you make a donation, Kilmartin offers these tips:
• Verify the legitimacy of the organization. Several websites, including www.charitynavigator.org , www.give.org and www.guidestar.org provide helpful information regarding numerous charities. These websites can be a useful starting point for consumers looking to research companies prior to making a donation.
• Find out how your donation will be used and what percentage of the funds will be used for programming and how much will be spent on administrative costs.
• Be careful of charities with names that sound impressive or resemble those of other organizations. Some scam artists use names similar to reputable organizations to confuse donors.
• Do not pay bills or invoices you have received from charities unless you know you have already made a commitment to support them.
• Never send cash! Always contribute by check or credit card and donate directly to the charity.
• Remember to ask for a receipt and a statement that the contribution is tax deductible.
• If solicited in person, ask to see identification for both the solicitor and the charity.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams.
If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General at (401) 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint form by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.