Consumer Protection in the Wake of the California Wildfires

The recent and ongoing California wildfires, one being called the nation's deadliest in a century, have caused major devastation, prompting an onslaught of support and charitable contributions nationwide.  The American Red Cross is currently allocating funds raised to bring critical supplies, food, shelter, and comfort to victims of the wildfires [1].  The situation in California has provoked a response from various charities across the country, but when donating it is important to ensure you are donating to a reputable, licensed charitable organization.  Be wary of charitable solicitations requests received in-person, by phone or email because they may not be coming from a legitimate organization [2].  If you are setting up a charitable organization or branching out your charitable activities into new states, you must understand and comply with each state’s licensure and registration requirements. 

Charitable fundraising activities are governed by state law and many states require charitable non-profits and professional fundraisers to register with the state prior to engaging in any solicitation for donations.  In order to hold non-profit organizations accountable and to protect the public interest, the majority of states have enacted Charitable Solicitation Acts.  Currently, forty states plus DC require registration.  As a consumer protection mechanism, the Attorneys General of most states broadly define charitable solicitation and enforce the rules of law aggressively.  International Charity Fraud Awareness Week began on October 22, 2018. The California Attorney General issued some helpful tips to promote safe and wise donations in the aftermath of disasters and during the holiday season. Some of those recommendations include asking for written materials on the charity, watching out for names that sound similar to licensed and reputable charities, and researching the charity yourself to be sure [3]. 

Ultimately knowledge and awareness before you donate is important for you as the donor as well as the victims receiving aid.  Ensure that the charities you donate to are appropriately licensed.  LicenseLogix offers a wide range of license compliance tools.  Our Vendor Verification Service allows for quick and affordable license confirmations. 

If you operate a charity, let LicenseLogix explore the ways we can assist to ensure you are complaint.  Our industry knowledge, coupled with our compliance tools, offers full service license assistance to our charitable and non-profit organization clients. 

[1] https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/wildfire-relief.html

[2] https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/11/wise-giving-wake-californias-wildfires

[3] https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-becerra-issues-tips-consumers-during-international-charity