Attorney General Stein’s November Column: Make Your Donations Count this Holiday Season

Protecting North Carolinians from Holiday Donation Scams

As the holiday season approaches, the desire to spread joy and give back to those in need becomes more prominent. However, with the spirit of giving comes the potential for scams and fraudulent activities targeting the generosity of individuals. Attorney General Stein urges North Carolinians to exercise caution when donating to charities and non-profit organizations this holiday season. By following a few simple steps, individuals can ensure that their donations make a genuine impact and reach those who truly need it.

Researching the Organization: Ensuring Legitimacy

Before donating to a charity or non-profit organization, it is crucial to conduct thorough research to verify its legitimacy. Attorney General Stein advises individuals to check the organization’s license with the Secretary of State or contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM for assistance. Additionally, resources such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar provide ratings and historical information about charities, aiding in informed decision-making.

Beware of Unsolicited Communications: Identifying Phishing Scams

Unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages requesting donations should be treated with caution. Scammers often employ emotional tactics to manipulate individuals into giving to fraudulent causes. Attorney General Stein advises individuals to contact their chosen charities directly rather than responding to unsolicited messages. By taking this precautionary step, individuals can ensure their donations reach the intended recipients.

Vigilance in Social Media and Crowdfunding: Avoiding Fake Causes

Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe have become popular avenues for supporting various causes. However, scammers also exploit these platforms, creating fake campaigns to deceive potential donors. Attorney General Stein emphasizes the importance of researching the organizer’s credibility before contributing to a crowdfunding campaign. If the organizer’s details do not align with the cause or cannot be verified, individuals should refrain from donating. Verifying the organizer’s identity and the cause’s legitimacy is essential to ensure donations benefit those in need.

Secure Payment Methods: Protecting Against Scammers

When making donations, it is advisable to use secure payment methods such as credit cards. Attorney General Stein warns against using wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrencies, as scammers often request these forms of payment to make it difficult for donors to dispute transactions and retrieve their money. If donating by check, it should be made payable to the charity itself rather than an intermediary fundraiser. Legitimate charities will never ask for donations through gift card purchases or redemptions.

Avoiding Pressure Tactics: Making Informed Decisions

Telemarketers may employ pressure tactics to prompt immediate donations, often benefiting from commissions on the funds raised. Attorney General Stein advises individuals not to succumb to such pressure and to reach out directly to their chosen charity to make a donation. Legitimate charities will never rush or pressure individuals into giving, ensuring that donors have the time to make informed decisions.


The holiday season is a time for spreading joy and giving back to communities. However, it is essential to be vigilant and protect oneself from scams and fraudulent activities. Attorney General Stein encourages North Carolinians to research organizations, avoid unsolicited communications, be cautious on social media and crowdfunding platforms, use secure payment methods, and make informed decisions when donating. By following these guidelines, individuals can ensure that their donations truly make a difference and bring joy to those in need.






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