Mississippi’s Secretary of State says to beware of charity scams this holiday season

Mississippi’s Secretary of State says to beware of charity scams this holiday season

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The National Day of Giving is set for tomorrow and it’s a global generosity day set aside for people to give back to the community.

As people prepare to donate money to the charities of their choice, the Secretary of State’s office urges folks to beware of charity scams that could steal your money.

The Magnolia State is known to many as one of the most generous states in the country when it comes to helping those in need - especially around the holidays.

“Mississippi gives over a billion dollars a year to charity,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

The Salvation Army and Red Cross are two nonprofits that welcome the donations.

“We have programs all the way up to seniors. We have feeding programs, arts education,” said Michelle Hartfield with the Salvation Army .

“We have several campaigns going on right now. We have a Holiday Giving Campaign on the way and tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. We’re collecting donations to support the mission of the American Red Cross, so it’s very important that we have several safeguards in place to protect the financial gifts of the general public,” said Tamica Smith, Director of Communications and Marketing Manager for the American Red Cross Mississippi.

While both organizations take extra steps to make sure their donations are going to the right place, Hosemann says there are a lot of phony charities that aim to scam people out of their Christmas cash so it’s important to research before you give.

“We encourage you to give local. We have our faith-based communities, we have more than 4,000 charities registered in the state that can take your money and spend it where we need to, here locally in Mississippi,” said Hosemann.

In fact, Hosemann says charities soliciting funds must be registered with the Secretary of State’s office.

“If you have any questions go to our website. We have a charity section and I will show you how much is used for the charitable purpose and how much is for management.”

Hosemann says you should always get receipts. Never give out personal or information such as your social and bank account numbers. Also, avoid pressure tactics.

“Most of time when they say we have to have this by 5 o’clock today or 10 o’clock tonight in order to fund charity with, they are really funding themselves, so don’t fall for that.”

For more information: www.sos.ms.gov or call 601-359-1599 (charities division).

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