TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 20, 2012) - As part of BMO Financial Group's ongoing commitment to financial literacy and 'Making Money Make Sense' for Canadians, BMO is releasing a financial tip every week in 2012.
BMO's Financial Tip of the Week: Be wary of fraudulent charities this holiday season.
With the holiday season underway, many Canadians are getting into the spirit and showing their generosity to various charitable causes. According to a BMO study, 79 per cent of Canadians made a charitable donation over the last 12 months, up from 68 per cent last year.
BMO's Vice President & Managing Director of Philanthropic Services, Marvi Ricker, offers the following tips on how Canadians can spot and avoid fraudulent charitable requests this holiday season:
Verify Legitimacy: Ask those soliciting donations for proof of their identity and to provide the charity's registered name, address and telephone number. Once this information is provided, be sure to verify with the Canada Revenue Agency that the organization is a registered charity or is affiliated with one. If you suspect something is not right but still want to donate, call the charity to ensure that they are aware of the solicitation by the individual.
Avoid Giving Cash: If the agency turns out not to be a registered charity, it is difficult to reclaim cash donations. Offer to make a donation online (after you do your research), or write a cheque and address it to the charity rather than the soliciting individual.
Double Check Rewards: Sound too good to be true? It probably is. Some illegitimate groups will promise grand prizes and sweepstakes as a reward for making a contribution. Be aware that most charitable organizations offer minimal to no incentives, as contributions tend to go directly to the cause itself.
Where is your money going? Be sure to ask solicitors where your charitable donations will be going within the organization, specifying what percentage will be credited to its solicitors, and how much to the cause. Legitimate, registered charities will have this information readily available.
Obtain a Tax Receipt: Always ask for proof that your contribution has been submitted. If a charity is unable to provide you with an official receipt, it is a warning sign that the charity is not registered. Plus, the receipt will benefit you at tax time.
To find a list of registered Canadians charities visit the Canada Revenue Agency at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/charities/.
For more information on charitable giving please visit: www.bmo.com/harrisprivatebanking.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at October 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.