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How To Know If Sidewalk Solicitors Are Legit

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(Credit: CBS)

(Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – They seem to be everywhere you look downtown; people who want to stop you and get you to give to their cause.

But how do you know which people collecting on the sidewalk are what the city calls legitimate? CBS 2′s Pamela Jones shows us.

Take a walk down State Street or even Michigan Avenue and you hear them.

They’re working to get you to stop, fill out a form and donate.

Theoretically, anyone could stand out on the sidewalk with a pad of paper and ask you for your information and for a handout.

Some of them are breaking a city ordinance requiring charities to have a permit to solicit on the street.

The City Council’s Finance Committee has a list of 33 groups that do hold charitable solicitation permits.

Greenpeace, the American Red Cross, Children’s International and the woman’s group “Fund for the Public Interest” are among them.

Many pedestrians said it’ll take more than a friendly handshake now, to get them to give.

Without a permit, how do you know these people are who they say they are?

One pedestrian said that, because she can’t know, “that’s why personally I wouldn’t give them any information or any money.”

Another pedestrian said, “If I am going to donate to a charity, I look them up on one of the websites.”

The city says it’s up to you to ask to see the permit. Groups with them have shown proof that they’ve registered with the Illinois Attorney General’s office as a real charity.

You can call 311 to report people who can’t show the permit and, if they’re breaking the law, they could be fined up to $1,000 a day.

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