Utah regulators: Give wisely in wake of disasters

Published: Monday, March 14 2011 5:50 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — In the wake of the tragic earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection is reminding Utah consumers to verify charitable organizations before making donations.

“While many of us are looking for ways to help these devastated countries and their citizens, unfortunately there are those who still seek to take advantage of our good deeds through our wallets,” said Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, “We ask consumers to make sure charities are registered with the state to be sure your generous efforts truly help those in need.”

Tips on giving:

1. Donate to charities with a track record and a history.

2. If you have any doubt about whether you’ve made a previous pledge or a contribution, check your records. If you can’t remember making the donation or pledge, resist the pressure to give.

3. Investigate an organization before donating. Some phony charities use names, seals and logos that look or sound like those of respected, legitimate organizations.

4. Call the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at (801) 530-6601 to see whether the charity or fundraising organization has to be registered in Utah or log on to: www.consumerprotection.utah.gov.

5. Do not give cash donations. For security and tax record purposes, it is best to pay by check made payable to the charity.

6. Ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution.

7. Be wary of promises of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. You never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.

Additional resources for consumers

www.guidestar.org — Guidestar

www.bbb.us/charity — Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance

www.charitynavigator.org – Charity Navigator

www.charitywatch.org — American Institute of Philanthropy  

FTC public education materials in English: http://www.ftc.gov/charityfraud

FTC public education materials in Espanol:  http://www.ftc.gov/donaciones

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