May 5 is Giving Tuesday Now, an opportunity for Californians to help families struggling as the coronavirus crisis continues. But there are crooks looking to take advantage of that generosity.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is cautioning Americans to watch for scammers posing as COVID-19 charities. On Tuesday, it shared additional advice to help make your donations count. Fortunately, it's easy to do a little research to help make sure your money goes to the right cause:
- Ask if the charity is a registered, public 501c3 organization. That means it has proven to the Internal Revenue Service that it is a non-profit group.
- Ask for the charity's Employer Identification Number, or EIN. Then, use that to search their tax records with the IRS.
- Another important question: ask exactly how the charity will spend your money. It should be able to tell you how much of your dollar goes to people who need it, and what portion goes to "administrative" costs, like employee salaries and fundraising. If a charity representative can't give you a fast and clear answer, consider giving elsewhere.
Finally, the FTC recommends looking up the charity with some of these watchdogs: