How to verify if a charity is legitimate

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 7:27 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Earlier this week, the North Charleston Police Department warned drivers to keep an eye out for, and avoid donating, to a group called “Save Kids.”

Many reported seeing members soliciting for donations at major intersections in North Charleston, Goose Creek and West Ashley.

Some of them holding signs that ask for money to help children with cancer or young ones who need donation and a link to a cash app.

The department did not explicitly call it a scam, but did state they displayed a fake business license to solicit.

There are ways to check if a charity is legitimate, and Bailey Parker of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says if you care where your money is going, you’ll want to do your homework.

Parker is the communications and public information director of the department.

“We want consumers to be on guard to realize that a lot of the times that people are doing that. They’re catching you off guard. They it’s a little bit of a pressure situation. That’s a very common scam red flag across the board,” she said.

Another red flag includes uncommon requests for payment.

“They like cryptocurrency. They like gift cards. They like cash app or venmo or even PayPal they like those prepaid debit cards. They love wire transfers. And the reason they like these is it’s just like cash to them. Once they have it they spend it and it’s gone. You’re not getting it back,” Parker said.

Scammers also follow the headlines.

A verified and legitimate charity is required to register with the South Carolina Secretary of State.

It has a charity search, and lists delinquent charities on its website.

“It’s just like any business that you are giving your money over to you, right you want to make sure that they’re following the laws that they’re supposed to be. So if they are set up as a 501c3 or some other type of charity organization, they need to have proper licensure to make sure they’re doing the things and and doing their taxes in a certain way,” Parker said.

She also recommends checking additional sources, like Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, to check in on what exactly the organizations are spending your money on.

“Consumers find out, oh well, 75% of my donation went to the CEO. That doesn’t sound good,” Parker said. " It may not be worth your donation and your hard-earned money.”

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