Consumer Protection Offers Tips for Giving to Charity - WBAY

Consumer Protection Offers Tips for Giving to Charity

By Kathryn Bracho

A lot of legitimate charities solicit over the phone, which may be why investigators say a group operating mostly in western Wisconsin was fraudulently able to raise $10 million claiming it was for charity.

If you've given to a charity before, you're likely to get on the telephone lists used by legitimate -- and not so legitimate -- charities.

Two web sites help you do your homework before giving to charities:

Give.org

Guidestar

Also, all charities in Wisconsin must register with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. Verify by calling (608) 266-5511.

The state Bureau of Consumer Protection says when you get that call, you need to gather some information before writing a check.

"A lot of times these types of companies will try to mimic a very well-known, legitimate charity by using a name that's just slightly different," Bob Zaspel of Consumer Protection cautions.

Zaspel says you need to become a detective. "Ask about the organization, ask what their function is, ask how much money from the donation actually goes to the charity itself."

By law, the charities have to answer your questions. If they won't give you answers or won't send you written information in the mail before you give, you don't want to deal with them, Zaspel says.

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