CONSUMER ALERT: Protect yourself against charity fraud this holiday

Staff Report

BATON ROUGE — The holidays are meant to be a cheerful time of giving, but fraudsters can rip the joy out of the season by taking advantage of generous consumers.  Before you support a charity, be sure to vet the organization.

     Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell advises consumers to take some simple precautions to keep the Grinches from raiding your pockets this holiday season.

Donate to charities you know and trust. Give to organizations with proven track records, and always ask what percentage of your donation will go directly to those in need.

     Never just assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the charitable organization yourself.

     Never send cash. Make donations by check or by credit card, both for security and for tax purposes.

     Reject high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities will give consumers time to consider their donation and to research the organization to which they are giving.

     Verify charities.  Go to to find out if the charity is actually an IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Contact the Attorney General’s Charitable Registration Section, the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Corporations Database and the Better Business Bureau before you donate.

     To report charity fraud and scams, call Attorney General Caldwell’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889.