Attorney General Fox Offers Safe Giving Tips for Year-End Donors

Many nonprofit organizations rely on end-of-year donations to round out their budgets. Attorney General Tim Fox and his Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) want to make sure Montanans who donate to their favorite charities at this time of year do so in the safest way possible.

“Making a charitable donation before December 31 is a great way to support the causes that are close to your heart and save some money come tax time,” said Attorney General Tim Fox.  “Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous people out there who pose as representatives for a charity, or who set up a false charity in order to steal money and personal information from donors.  However, there are many tools donors can use to ensure their philanthropic contributions are going toward a real cause instead of being pocketed by a scammer.”

Best practices include: 
• Give wisely.  Would-be donors should ask questions and donate only when they feel satisfied that their money will be used in ways they consider appropriate.
• Be wary of callers who use high pressure tactics or those who promise sweepstakes winnings or any prize of significant value in exchange for a contribution.
• Ask how much of each donation will go to the charity for its charitable (rather than administrative) purposes.
• Ask solicitors if they are paid fund-raisers.  If the solicitors are paid, a portion of any charitable contribution will help pay their salary.
• Ask solicitors to provide written documentation indicating that the donation will be tax deductible.
• Ask for the full, official name of the charity, then search for it online through a charity evaluator website, a list of which can be found on the Montana Office of Consumer Protection’s web page at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/donations-to-charities/.  Alternatively, you can also call the Office of Consumer Protection at 406-444-4500 to ensure there is no scam activity taking place with the charity soliciting your donation.
• Don’t give out credit card numbers to a telephone solicitor or in response to any unsolicited phone calls received. Pay by check instead. A cancelled check will help for tax record purposes. Use the full, official name of the charity on the check.

NEXT STEPS:  To get updates on the latest scams affecting Montanans, sign up for Consumer Alerts through the Office of Consumer Protection.  To report an attempted scam, use OCP’s convenient online reporting form.  You can also call to speak with one of OCP’s investigators at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, visit OCP’s homepage at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/, or call your local law enforcement agency.