Submitted by the Washington State Office of Attorney General
Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman warn Washingtonians looking to make charitable donations during the COVID-19 crisis to be wary of scams.
“In this unprecedented situation, many of us are searching for ways to help,” Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, scammers look for ways to prey on Washingtonians’ goodwill. Washingtonians should know that my office is on the lookout for individuals preying on our generosity during this crisis. If you see any suspicious or fraudulent solicitations, file a complaint with my office.”
“With past emergencies as an indicator, Washingtonians always step up to help those in our state, country and around the world in need during a crisis,” Wyman said. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, charitable giving opportunities rise. So, too, do charity scams. I want to caution our fellow Washingtonians to pause before you donate. Scammers may use high-pressure tactics to force you to make a donation. Take your time and ask the right questions to make sure they are a legitimate organization before you give them your money.”
Ferguson and Wyman said there are several common-sense ways to avoid being scammed by those seeking donations:
• Don’t give in to high-pressure solicitations that demand you make an instant commitment.
• Do your research before giving.
• Check to see if the charity is registered with the Secretary of State at www.sos.wa.gov/charities/.
• If the organization is registered, you can review a summary of its tax status and financial records.
• If the organization is not registered, or you would like further information, contact the Secretary of State’s Charities Program at 1-800-332-4483.
• Check the charity’s rating by Better Business Bureau at www.give.org. More resources for donors can be found at www.sos.wa.gov/charities/ResourcesforDonors.aspx.
• Call the charity directly to make sure it has authorized the solicitor to collect donations on its behalf.
Need more information, or to file a complaint?
For more information, visit the Secretary of State’s information page for donors, or call the Charities Program at 1-800-332-4483.
To file a complaint about a charity or commercial fundraiser, visit the Attorney General’s website at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.