Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Encourages Californians to Shop and Donate Wisely This Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SAN FRANCISCO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued tips on how Californians can protect themselves from identity theft and make the most of their charitable giving on Giving Tuesday and throughout this holiday season.

Tips for safe shopping:

  • Review your bank and credit card statements frequently for unusual and unfamiliar transactions.
  • In the event of a security breach involving your credit card, monitor your account and contact your bank promptly if you see any suspicious transactions.
  • If the security breach involves your debit card, the best way to protect yourself is to cancel the card immediately and get a replacement with a different number.
  • Try to avoid making purchases in free Wi-Fi hotspots, such as a coffee shop, which can put your passwords and other information at risk.
  • Shop on secure websites. One indicator of a secure website is the presence of a yellow padlock icon in the browser bar. Another indicator is ‘https’ in the web address.
  • Never send sensitive personal or financial information, such as a social security or bank account number, through e-mail. Legitimate companies will not ask you to do so because it is not a secure way to transfer sensitive information.
  • If you are receiving text messages on your cell phone saying you have won a prize or gift card, do not click on the link in the message – it is most likely a scam and may install a virus on your phone.
  • Know the return policies of the retailers you shop with before you leave the store or conclude an online transaction. Many retailers will give you a refund if you have a receipt and your return is prompt, but some may only give store credit. Ask a clerk if the policy is not posted at the register.

Tips for donating wisely:

  • The best way for many donors to select worthwhile charities is to work with a local charity as a volunteer. This helps provide first-hand knowledge about programs that benefit your community.
  • Do your research before giving. Charities operating in California are required to register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts.  You can review the charity’s purpose and financial records at
  • Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs, or other social media have been vetted. Research the charity yourself.
  • If you are contacted by a solicitor on behalf of a charity, ask if he/she works for a commercial fundraiser and what percentage of donations goes directly to the charity. You may prefer to contact the charity directly to make a donation.
  • Don’t fall for pressure tactics and ask questions before donating. You have the right to reject the appeal and if you feel pressured or threatened, just hang up.
  • If you receive an email or text message asking for a donation to a charity, contact the charity directly and confirm that the request is legitimate.
  • Make charitable contributions directly on a charity's website. If donating by check, use the full name of the charity rather than initials or an abbreviation. Do not give your credit card number to a telephone solicitor or in response to any unsolicited phone call you receive.
  • Protect your identity.  Never give your social security number or other personal information in response to a charitable solicitation.  Never give out credit card information to an organization unfamiliar to you. Look at the charity’s privacy policy and learn who the charity might share your information with before you provide it.

Additional consumer tips, information, and lists of resources are available at:


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