By Summer Stephan
As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and you, the community. One way I have been doing that is through this monthly column, where I provide consumer tips on public safety matters.
The holidays often bring out the best of us, prompting many to adopt a family in need or to donate to a charity. This spirit of caring is what makes us a generous community. Many Californians are giving to charities assisting wildfire victims or vulnerable immigrants this year. Unfortunately, sometimes sham organizations posing as legitimate charities are looking to take advantage of your kindness.
In this time of giving, be sure you know who you’re dealing with before you give.
Here’s what you should consider before donating:
Verify the charity is registered and in good standing in the State of California bit.ly/2Rl8ep6
Consider the charity’s rating and bona fides – charitywatch.org and the Better Business Bureau are great sources of information on charities
- Verify the name of the charity and be aware of name rip-off scams –– bit.ly/2CBEtbH
- Consider the charity’s mission and purpose
- Do not use debit cards to make donations online
If you find you’ve been scammed:
- Report the crime to the California Attorney General
- Report the scam to the Better Business Bureau
- Request the return of your funds
- Document the payments made for purposes of proving the loss
- Request a chargeback if payment was made by credit card
If you’ve spotted a scam charity, report it to: California Attorney General – Charitable Trusts Division bit.ly/2AgA4cq
If you are considering donating to a crowdfunding site, remember that the sites may not have fully vetted the individuals asking for assistance. It would be more safe to give to people you know. The same goes for third-party recommendations you may come across when scrolling through the internet. They may not have researched the organizations either. You can research charities and relief organizations on your own at give.org.
The DA’s Consumer Protection Unit is composed of deputy district attorneys, investigators and paralegals dedicated to protecting consumers and law abiding businesses from fraudulent or unfair business practices. To report a consumer complaint, you can call 619-531-3507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of our entire team at the District Attorney’s Office, which is dedicated to building safe and healthy communities, we wish you a joyful and safe holiday season.
—District Attorney Summer Stephan has dedicated more than 28 years to serving justice and victims of crime as prosecutor. She is a national leader in fighting sex crimes and human trafficking and in creating smart and fair criminal justice solutions and restorative justice practices that treat the underlying causes of addiction and mental illness and that keep young people from being incarcerated.