Ohio AG’s office issues precautions for ‘Giving Tuesday’

Donald Baca, right, drops money into a Salvation Army red kettle as bell ringer Mark Pearson looks on in downtown Seattle Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. The motivations may vary, but the goal is the same: to spread good cheer and good works at the same time by giving "gifts" to friends and family that are actually donations to charity made in their names. (AP Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is offering charitable giving tips for “Giving Tuesday,” the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, when donors are urged to make charitable contributions amid the holiday shopping season.

While charities throughout the country use the last month of the year to seek support from donors, scammers also compete for these contributions.

Con artists may pose as reputable charity representatives and collect donations by phone, online, or outside stores. They claim to support a charitable cause, but ultimately they keep the money for themselves, according to a press release from the Ohio AG’s office.

To detect and avoid potential charity scams, the Ohio AG’s office says donors should:

  • Develop a giving plan. Determine which charities you want to support. Respond to unexpected or unwanted requests by explaining that you already have a giving plan. Invite other groups to provide you with written information so you can evaluate their requests.
  • Research charities. Find out if an organization is registered with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, verify its tax-exempt status with the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check, and gather data from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, and Charity Navigator. View the organization’s IRS Form 990 on Guidestar. Review program descriptions, expenses, compensation levels, and other details. Conduct a basic internet search to review a group’s accomplishments or questionable activity.
  • Ask how your donation will be used. Keep in mind that some charitable giving requests come from professional solicitors who are paid to collect donations. Solicitors should identify themselves, and if you ask, tell you what percentage of your donation will go to the charity. Also contact charities directly to find out how they use donations. Get information in writing. Compare a charity’s materials with information you gather from other sources.
  • Watch for red flags. Be wary of high-pressure tactics, requests for checks made out to an individual (instead of a charity), and people who are unable or unwilling to answer questions about their organization. Don’t provide your credit card number or other personal information to callers who contact you unexpectedly.

To check an organization, you can visit Charity Navigator, or GuideStar to see if the organization you’d like to donate to is a legitimate entity.

Those who suspect a charity scam or questionable fundraising activities should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

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