(Image courtesy of charity navigator.org)

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State Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned Californians on Thursday to be aware of fraudulent charities during the coronavirus public health emergency.

“Californians have a big heart,” Becerra said. “Sadly, there are also scammers out their attempting to profit off of your generosity. I urge everyone to be vigilant. Do your research before donating,” Becerra said in a consumer alert.

He said genuine charities and telemarketers soliciting donations in California must be registered with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, which can be viewed online at www.oag.ca.gov/charities.

The online registry can be used by the public to research whether a charity is genuine, how it spends its donations, and how much goes to overhead and employee salaries.

Becerra urged Californians not to give out personal information by phone, to be cautious of fraudulent “look alike” websites imitating real charities and to be wary of telemarketers.

“Give to organizations you trust,” he said.

The attorney general said that anyone who is aware of a charity scam can file a complaint on his office’s website at oag.ca.gov/report.