While many Tennesseans want to provide financial assistance to victims of this week’s bombing at the Boston Marathon, Secretary of State Tre Hargett warns would-be donors to be wary of bogus charities that may try to take advantage of the tragedy.
“It is an unfortunate reality that when tragic events like this occur, there are unscrupulous people who will try to profit from the kind-heartedness of others,” Secretary Hargett said. “It is very admirable that Tennesseans want to help those affected by this week's horrific event and - if they can afford to - they should. However, before making any charitable contribution, it is a good idea to do some homework first.”
Most types of charitable organizations are required to register and provide financial information to the Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming. Information on registered charities, including annual financial reports, is available on the Secretary of State’s web site. The online link to the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming is located at http://www.state.tn.us/sos/charity/index.htm.
Secretary Hargett encourages people interested in donating to charities to ask some questions first, such as exactly how contributions will be used. Also, Secretary Hargett recommends paying by check instead of cash to discourage fraud and provide records of contributions for tax purposes. Credit cards should be used only with highly-trusted organizations.
The Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming is authorized to investigate and impose civil penalties against individuals or groups who engage in fraudulent or misleading fundraising activities.
To ask questions or report suspicious activity, call the division at (615) 741-2555.