- Do your homework. Ask the charity for information and do independent research: Check its website; validate if it’s accredited by organizations like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance or is licensed by authorities. For a list of state offices, visit the National Association of State Charity Officials ( http://www.nasconet.org/).
- Sidestep solicitations. If a charity contacts you out of the blue, be cautious. Also be wary of appeals that look like an invoice. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises it is illegal to mail an invoice unless it bears a disclaimer stating you are under no obligation.
- Resist rushing. If a charity is legitimate, they’ll accept your donation anytime.
- Guard your generosity. Never give cash and if writing a check, make it out to the charity. Never use a money transfer company to send money to someone who you haven’t met or share your banking or credit card information.
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