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TN Sec. of State: Stay on the alert for holiday charity scams this season

People who receive or fall victim to false or deceptive fundraising activity should report it to the state by calling (615) 741-2555.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As the giving season ramps up, people should be especially cautious not to fall victim to a variety of scams taking advantage of their generosity. 

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said Tennesseans need to be wary this time of year before donating.

"Tennesseans are generous and support each other in times of need, especially around the holidays," Hargett said. “I encourage everyone to be diligent in making sure a charitable organization is legitimate before writing a check or donating online.”

The state's Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming has created a video with wise giving tips:

The Wise Giving Tips are:

  • If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, make sure it is legitimate by checking to see if it’s registered with the state at sos.tn.gov/charitable 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 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, ask if it 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, as there are many 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.

Charities that earn more than $50,000 a year are required by law to register with the State of Tennessee and file annual financial reports. Any charity not registered should automatically raise a donor's red flag. To verify that a charity is registered, visit sos.tn.gov/charitable or call (615) 741-2555.

People who receive or fall victim to false or deceptive fundraising activity should also report it to the number above.