Avoid donation scams this holiday season
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.