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Spot It

Sham charities succeed by mimicking the real thing. 

Beware of: 

  • Bills or invoices sent to you even though you never pledged money to the organization.
  • Evasive, vague, or unresponsive answers to specific questions about the charity and how money is used.
  • Words as part of a charity's name that closely resemble a well-known charity.
  • Allowing no time to reconsider your pledge; they insist on collecting your donation immediately.
  • Refusal to answer questions about where your money will go, refusal to send information about the charity, or refusal to provide a receipt.
  • Emotional appeals and high-pressure tactics to get you to make a quick decision or feel guilty about not contributing.



In each call, the call recipient did not agree to a pledge; nevertheless, the charity followed the call by sending the call recipients pledge forms informing them of their “promised pledges” and requesting payment by a “due date.”

Audio Transcripts:

Stop It

Public Safety Organizations

While you are never discouraged from supporting a police, fire, or other public safety organization, here are some facts you should know before giving: 

  • Most public safety groups are not charitable organizations, and they should not be confused with public services like firefighting and police protection, that are paid for by tax dollars, not donated funds.
  • Because these groups are not charitable, your donation may not be deductible on your income taxes.
  • Police and fire organizations and their fundraisers that solicit donations must be registered with the Attorney General’s office.
  • Donations made to a public safety group are often used to fund that group’s activities. 

Before you write that check…

Demand information in writing from the public safety organization or charity, including financial information.

Contact the organization directly to verify where and how your money will be used. Do not rely on the solicitor’s answers to your questions.

Visit the Attorney General’s website to confirm the organization’s registration and review its finances. You can also call the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section. For charities call 517-335-7571; for public safety (police or fire) organizations call 800-769-4515.

Where to go for help 

The Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section at:

Charitable Trust Section
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30214
Lansing, MI 48909