PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro is encouraging Pennsylvanians to follow three simple steps to avoid solicitations before donating money or goods to assist the people of Ukraine.
“Too often during humanitarian emergencies, scammers try to tug at the heartstrings of people who want to help, only to line their own pockets," Shapiro said. "My office wants to ensure that your hard earned dollars and donations go to the right places that can do the most for those in need.”
According to The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, anyone looking to donate to the crisis in Ukraine should follow these three steps:
Step 1 — Ask Questions:
- Where will your donation go specifically? Charities should always be able to give you specific information on what your donation will fund.
- Who is soliciting your donation? Bad actors will try to take advantage of you without answering the name of the group they are calling on behalf of.
- Ask for the EIN (Employee Identification Number) for U.S. based charities. Charitable organizations should have this number and provide it to you. The EIN helps simplify IRS searches for charity information.
Step 2 — Double Check:
- Check with the IRS or the Pennsylvania Department of State registries to see if this organization is registered and if donations are tax deductible. In Pennsylvania, all non-religious non-profit organizations must register with the Department of State.
- While an organization may be registered, it does not mean it is effective. Check nonprofit sites like Give.org, CharityWatch.org, Charitynavigator.org or similar trusted sites that regularly do research on charities.
- Be wary of new charities: organizations that did not exist before and now only exist because of a crisis may not be legitimate.
Step 3 — Be Careful How You Pay:
- Never donate in cash or on your debit card. Credit cards are best.
- Avoid using cryptocurrency, such as BitCoin.
- Never give money on impulse or through a mystery solicitation.
- Scammers try to create urgency and pressure when soliciting money – stay calm and do not allow yourself to be pressured by urgent appeals.
- If you are a victim to a scam, you can contact your local police department to file a report and a complaint through the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at: 800-441-2555 https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/scams.