KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Volunteer State is known to give generously, but this generosity can often be taken advantage of. To make sure your money goes to help, Tennessee’s Secretary of State shares ways to avoid scams ahead of the holiday season.

This week, Oct. 17 to 21, is also International Charity Fraud Awareness Week and Secretary of State Tre Hargett is reminding Tennesseans of resources available to help avoid scams.

“Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who set up fake organizations to take advantage of Tennesseans’ generosity,” said Hargett. “It’s important to ensure an organization is legitimate before making a donation and we have resources that can help.”

To avoid fraud and make sure your donation goes to the right place, here are the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations’ wise giving tips:

  • Check to see if the charity is registered within Tennessee on the Secretary of State’s website or by calling 615-741-2555. Any charity that has raised over $50,000 a year must register with the State of Tennessee.
  • Ask questions. Find out the organization’s mission, ask how your donation will be used and who it will benefit.
  • If you received a donation request through text or email, verify the request. Also, be wary of unprompted donation requests as you have to sign up for updates from most charities.
  • Do the research and don’t assume a social media post has been approved by the nonprofit.
  • Avoid giving cash and always ask for a receipt.
  • Pay attention to the name as there are many organizations with similar names. Fraudsters will also you names close to popular charities in an attempt to confuse people.
  • When donating to a paid fundraiser, find out how much is kept by the fundraiser and how much goes to the nonprofit.
This video, created by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, offers wise giving tips for Tennesseans.

Hargett also suggests using the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and GuideStar to find information about charitable organizations. Those who come across any false, misleading, or deceptive fundraising activity is asked to report it to the Division of Business and Charitable Organizations at 615-741-2555.