LITTLE ROCK - The holidays bring out the best in Arkansans, but there are some who try to take advantage of kind hearts by posing as charitable organizations to help Arkansans in need during the holiday season. Unfortunately, con artists will recycle tried-and-true scams and target unsuspecting consumers. Scam artists often solicit donations using charity names that are slightly different from the names of legitimate charities to trick consumers. Additionally, the scammers use a sense of urgency to push consumers into quickly donating without allowing consumers time to ask questions about the cause.
"Whether it's veterans in need, or a local food bank, Arkansans are known for being some of the most generous people on earth, especially during the holidays," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. "While the holiday season traditionally lends itself to an increase in charitable giving, it is important for Arkansans to do their research before giving to organizations that claim to do good will."
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers give to only legitimate charities:
- Do not fall prey to high-pressure sales tactics as they are often the first sign of an unscrupulous and fraudulent charity.
- Make attempts to determine the validity of an organization by conducting research before getting out a checkbook or credit card in response to a phone solicitation. Personal information could fall into the wrong hands, or the scammers could use it to steal money or identity.
- Get the organization's name, address, website and phone number, or give directly to a known nonprofit of choice. Make sure the nonprofit organization is registered with the Arkansas Secretary of State.
- Use GuideStar.org to compare nonprofit organizations and to get more information.
- Ask the organization how it will spend donations.
- Watch out for similar but different organization names as some con artists will use names similar to those of existing, reputable nonprofits in order to trick consumers.
- Never send cash. Make check or credit card payments for increased security and tax purposes.
- If donating via text message, verify the organization's number prior to sending information.
For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General's office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.