Miss. Secretary of State warns of charity scams around the holidays

Secretary of state encourages Mississippians to be on alert

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many people are opening their wallets and donating money to communities in need today.

It’s all part of Giving Tuesday.

It is a day set aside to support communities, charities, and worth causes.

But as the season of giving ramps up, the Secretary of State is warning people to beware of charity scams.

The American Red Cross is known to provide shelter, food, and other vital services year around especially during disasters.

And they say every donation counts.

“It’s going to the right place. We have so many lines of services, whether it be someone after a home fire or providing a smoke alarm for someone’s home,” said Denise Smith with the American Red Cross.

The Salvation Army provides food, shelter, and hope to those hurting right here in the community.

“Anything given here locally stays in our service area and used to put right back into our community. I know if I’m supporting a cause, I want to make sure I vetted that cause and it is going where they tell me,” said Michelle Hartfield; Director of Community Relations.

Secretary of State Michael Watson says many Mississippians are known for having big hearts and a giving spirit when it comes to charities.

“We gave over $1.7 billion last year in charitable giving our state. That’s an incredible number when you think about it.”

As the holiday giving season kicks off, Watson wants to make sure people don’t fall for charity scams.

He says it’s important to research the organization and find out where the money is going.

“One of things we do with our check for charities initiative is we put out an annual report every year on all the charities in Mississippi. So, you can go and find out what percentage of money they used for the charitable purpose, how much money did they use on fundraising, how much money did they use on administrative expenses? I encourage folks to do their homework,” said Watson.

He says also be careful how you donate. For example, never wire money. Instead, pay by credit card or check because it’s safer.

“Make sure you ask for a receipt. If you have questions, ask for them to respond in writing. Don’t let people get pushy with you on the telephone, and make sure don’t give out personal information.”

If you have questions about local charities or need more information before you donate, please call the charities division at the Secretary of State’s office. That number is 601-359-1599.

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