Friday, April 19, 2013

Don't Be Scammed By Dubious 'Charities'

Check Out Any Organization Asking For Donations

LABELLE, FL. -- There are many legitimate charities that are helping the ones in need; however, during times like these, scammers also take advantage of people who want to give donations warns the Florida Division of Consumer Services.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam advises if you're considering donating to a charity, please keep these tips in mind to assure that your money is going to those who need it most:

When solicited for a donation, always ask for the charity’s registration number (CH#), as well as the paid solicitor’s registration number, if applicable. 

Visit Florida's online Gift Givers Guide to determine what percentage of donations go to administrative, fundraising and program expenses. Information is also available by phone at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). 

All charities soliciting within the state of Florida, excluding religious, educational, political and governmental entities, are required to register and file financial information with the department.

Never give out your personal, financial or account information over the phone unless you initiated the call and the phone number is from a trusted source.

Be sure to obtain a receipt or printed copy of your donation in order to have a record for tax reporting purposes. Even if an organization is tax exempt, your contribution may not be tax deductible.

The IRS has a website that lists all charities that are eligible to receive tax-deductible donations which should be checked before writing a check. In Clewiston there are only 32 organizations listed and also 32 in LaBelle. There are 15 listed for Moore Haven.  Be warned if the organization is not listed here you may not be able take a tax deduction for your donation.

Ask for the charity's tax–exempt number issued by the Internal Revenue Service and call them or go online for verification. (Search tip: enter the city name and search for those eligible to receive tax-deductible donations)

Do not let yourself be pressured into contributing on the spot. Reputable charities and organizations are just as willing to receive your donation tomorrow as today.

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