Avoid do­na­tion scams this hol­i­day sea­son

The Avenue News - - EDITORIAL -

As the hol­i­days ap­proach, Sec­re­tary of State John Woben­smith warns ci­ti­zens to be­ware of scam char­i­ties and de­cep­tive prac­tices. Char­i­ties in Mary­land and be­yond rely upon the gen­eros­ity of ci­ti­zens to pro­vide pro­grams and ser­vices to those in need across our great state.

The hol­i­days in­spire a spirit of gen­eros­ity. Char­i­ties step up ef­forts to so­licit do­na­tions dur­ing the hol­i­days. Many of us re­spond and dig deep to help. Sadly, scam artists abound and of­ten prey upon gen­er­ous hearts.

Did you know that all char­i­ties who so­licit money in Mary­land must reg­is­ter with the Of­fice of the Sec­re­tary of State be­fore they can be­gin to so­licit money? Check our web­site to con­firm if a char­ity is au­tho­rized to raise money in Mary­land: http://sos.mary­land.gov/Char­ity/Pages/ SearchChar­ity.aspx. • Rec­og­nize red flags. Ask ques­tions. Be sus­pi­cious of any char­ity that won’t an­swer your ques­tions. Here are some red flags that should help you ques­tion whether a char­ity wor­thy of your sup­port:

• Did the or­ga­ni­za­tion refuse to send you writ­ten ma­te­rial or fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion?

• Did the so­lic­i­tor of­fer to send a per­son to col­lect your con­tri­bu­tion?

• Did the char­ity send you an in­voice or state­ment that in­di­cates a pay­ment due for a con­tri­bu­tion you never pledged?

• Does the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s name and logo closely re­sem­ble an­other char­ity with a sim­i­lar pur­pose? Con artists abound. If you think you’ve been the vic­tim of a scam, or change your mind and choose not to donate for any rea­son, it’s okay. Did you know that you have the right to change your mind af­ter you pledged to donate? Well, you do!

Call 800-825-4510 to check if a char­ity is reg­is­tered. More in­for­ma­tion about char­i­ties can be found on the Sec­re­tary of State’s Char­ity page at http://sos.mary­land.gov.

The Sec­re­tary of State’s Of­fice in­ves­ti­gates com­plaints about char­ity fraud. To re­port a po­ten­tially scam char­ity, con­tact our In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit at 410-260-3859 or 800-825-4510.

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