Indiana’s attorney general warns of charity scams

Indiana

INDIANA (WEHT) – Attorney General Todd Rokita is warning Indiana residents to be aware of the types of charities that could possibly be scams.

Rokita says that the best course of action to take at this time is to do careful research before donating to charities in case these charities are illegitimate or Hoosiers risk having their contributions put towards things they disapprove of.

“There is something distinctly repulsive about fraudsters who scheme to take advantage of Hoosiers’ good-hearted generosity,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Everyone should endeavor to help less fortunate neighbors and give to worthy causes. As we do that, though, we should take steps to ensure we’re not padding swindlers’ pockets rather than truly helping the needy.”

The Indiana Attorney General works to track down, investigate and bring to justice the criminals who perpetrate illegal scams. To protect Hoosiers from becoming scam victims, Rokita gives the following advice:

  • Research any charity to which one is considering donating.
    • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests searching online using the charity name plus words like “complaint,” “review,” or “scam.” Don’t be fooled by names that sound like well-known charities.
    • Be sure to ask how much of the donation will go directly to the program an individual wants to help — and do research to confirm.
    • Beware of charities that pop up after recent disasters.
  • Interested donors must make sure they are dealing with the real charitable organization. Be leery of year-end appeals from unknown or unfamiliar organizations received by phone, mail, email, and/or social media.
    • If reached by phone, do not agree to donate money without further research into the organization.
    • Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate — or that hyperlinks are accurate — even in posts shared or liked by friends. Contact friends offline and request information about links they share.
    • It is generally safer to donate as part of a longstanding familiar relationship with a charitable cause than to respond to out-of-the-blue solicitations.
    • When donating online, use a browser to navigate to a reputable charity’s verified website — and donate there rather than through a third party or “middleman” collectors, who often skim off a sizeable portion of donations even if they are legitimate.
    • Legitimate, secure donation websites should begin with “https” (or feature a lock icon) rather than just “http.”
  • Take time and don’t overshare. Do not share personal information or financial information in response to unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls.
    • Never feel rushed to donate.
    • Be skeptical of solicitors who try to play on emotions through heart-rending stories or images. Remember that legitimate charities do not use pressure tactics.
  • Always donate by credit card rather than cash or other methods, to ensure that the protections made available through the credit card company.
    • Make sure no one has signed up for a recurring donation if they didn’t want one.
    • Look up a charity’s report and ratings on these websites:

If someone has either become a victim of or knows of a scam going on in reference to charity, go to this website to report to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. For more information about the Office’s Consumer Protection Division, please call 1-800-382-5516.

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