Jason S. Miyares
Attorney General of Virginia

Charity Scams

Some con artists prey on the emotions and good will of the public by posing as real charities, but instead pocket donations for themselves. These fraudsters cheat donors as well as the legitimate charities that could have benefited from the contributions.

Always follow these tips when considering a charitable donation:

  • Only give to charities you know and trust.
  • Beware of "copy-cat" names that are similar to those of reputable charities but are not the organizations you think.
  • Do not be pressured into giving. Legitimate organizations will not expect you to contribute immediately.
  • Ask for written information. Legitimate organizations will give you materials about the charity's mission, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax-deductible.
  • Just because a "charity" has a tax identification number does not mean that it is a charitable organization or that your contribution is tax-deductible.
  • Ask how much of the donation will go to the program you want to support and how much will go to administrative or fundraising costs. Legitimate charities will be able to give you this information.
  • Avoid cash donations. Make checks payable to the charitable organization and not to an individual collecting a donation.


The Virginia Solicitation of Contributions Law requires any organization soliciting in Virginia to be registered with OCRP. You also can review financial information on the organization to determine how they intend to spend your contribution.


Verify the charity's registration with the Virginia Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs:

Richmond Area: (804) 786-1343

Charity Registration Search


You also can get information regarding U.S. charities and other nonprofit organizations from GuideStar. GuideStar maintains a database of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized organizations.

GuideStar Directory of Charities and Nonprofit Organizations