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Front Page » December 11, 2008 » Carbon County News » Consumer protection division details guidelines for chari...
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Consumer protection division details guidelines for charitable contributions

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The Utah Division of Consumer Protection cautions Carbon County residents to thoroughly evaluate charitable organizations prior to deciding to contribute to the organizations.

By providing benevolent, educational, philanthropic and humane services, charitable organizations fulfill a valuable role in society, explained the state agency.

Most charities are honest, well-run organizations, continued the consumer protection division. But unfortunately, a small number of the charities attempt to take advantage of the generous nature of people who want to contribute to worthy causes.

The dishonest organizations not only mislead consumers, but divert financial donations from reputable charities providing valuable services.

In addition, the organizations damage the public's trust in donating to reputable charities.

Lending a helping hand is important, noted the consumer protection division. But Carbon County residents should make certain that they are giving wisely.

Before contributing to soliciting organizations, the state agency recommendations that local residents:

•Determine whether the charities are registered with the division of consumer protection.

The Utah Charitable Solicitations Act was enacted to protect the public's confidence in making charitable contributions.

The law requires charities to register annually with the division unless the organizations are exempt.

Consumers should be aware of the fact that registration does not constitute endorsement or approval of the charity by the division or any government entity, stressed the state agency.

•Determine exactly how donations will be used and request all of the pertinent information necessary to make an informed decision prior to contributing to an organization.

Charities are not required to limit overhead expenses, explained the consumer protection agency, indicated the consumer protection division.

However, the organizations are required to report the percentage of contributions spent on charitable purposes.

Pertinent information includes the full name and permit number of the charity in question.

The relevant information also includes whether the solicitors are paid or are volunteers and the types of programs or services the charity provides in Utah.

Consumers have the right to receive accurate solicitations as well as clear descriptions of the programs and activities for which contributions are being requested, indicated the state agency. Consumers also have the right to know the identity of the solicitor and the solicitor's relationship to the charitable organization.

•Exercise caution when making a contributions, even after investigating a charity. Consumers should never give credit card or checking account information to an unfamiliar organization or send cash through the mail. People should always write checks to the charities, not the individuals collecting the money, and refuse to send contributions to a post office box.

•Recognize the signs of charity scams.

Disreputable organizations frequently focus on appealing to the emotions or beliefs of consumers, while offering little or no information about the actual charity. People should never be swayed by a sad story until they have all of the facts. Disphas a name that sounds similar to that of a well-know organization.  This does not indicate affiliation with that organization or worthiness.  You might think that you are contributing to a nationally recognized charity, when in reality, you are contributing to a fake.

•Sweepstakes offers or free gifts are made part of the solicitation.  Gifts may include any thing from money to greeting cards and key chains.  Never feel that you must donate in return for an unsolicited gift.

•The solicitor pressures you to contribute on the spot, or offers to send a representative or a bonded courier immediately to your home to pick up your contribution.  A reputable charity will gladly accept your contribution today, tomorrow or a month from now.

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December 11, 2008
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