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How to donate wisely this holiday season and avoid scams

While the holiday season is a time many donate to different charities, this is also the time that more people find themselves falling for scams.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State leaders are encouraging Tennesseans to give wisely this season, but to also be wary of scammers.

There are several kinds of scams that circulate during the holiday season. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett offered tips for people to avoid falling victim to these scams.

"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,” Secretary Hargett said.

Hargett and the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations created some “Wise Giving Tips” so people know what to be on the lookout for.

If a nonprofit asks for funds, make sure to check it’s registered with the state via the Secretary of State’s website at this link or you can contact the Better Business Bureau at (865) 692-1600.

Hargett said people should take as much time as needed and not be afraid to ask questions to ensure that it’s an actual organization, who the donation will benefit and how much will be given to the organization itself.

He also provided these tips:

  • 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.

"By taking the time to research before giving, donors could prevent their hard-earned dollars from falling into the wrong hands," Hargett said.

If you find misleading information about an organization, it can be reported to the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations at (615)-741-2555.

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