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Experts Advise How To Avoid “Charity” Scams During Holidays

The Indiana Attorney General and groups are urging Hoosiers to use discretion when giving money to charities this holiday season.

Salvation Army Sign

Photo: Justin Russell (Flickr)

Hoosiers should give to well-known charities or do research about an organization before they donate money.

In the midst of the holiday season, charities step up their fundraising drives as people think more about giving.  But how do you make sure your money is going to a good cause?

The state Attorney General’s consumer information site, Indiana-consumer-dot-com, has an entire section devoted to charitable giving.  Consumer Protection Division director Abby Kuzma says the best way to donate is to research and reach out to the charity first.

“The big danger is when somebody’s contacting you and that’s where you’re most likely to be a victim of a fraud or a scam,” he says.

If someone solicits donations over the phone or by email, Kuzma says make sure to ask plenty of questions about the organization, request more information and do research about the group before giving money. Tim Seiler is the director of the Fund Raising School at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.  He says good organizations are usually able to provide plenty of information to potential donors.

“Ask the questions,” Seiler says. “What’s the organization’s track record, so to speak?  What kind of successes have you had, what measurable impact have you had?”

The Attorney General’s website includes links to groups that study charities and can provide information on things like how much money goes to helping the cause and how much goes to administrative costs.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=766819187 Missy Montoya

    Do NOT give money to the Salvation Army! Donate to The Red Cross or to Foundation Beyond Belief or to Atheists Helping The Homeless (AHH) instead. Any of these fine secular charities are more well suited to do real good with your money. The Salvation Army is a discriminatory and exclusionary organization more concerned with evangelism than with aiding the poor or community support. They have been sued for it (they lost and had to PAY). They have been called out for it publicly for their ignorant world view and they have admitted their beliefs are often distasteful. They have been asked to update their creed and mission and they refuse, they would rather make excuses for their behaviors and send out official apologist rhetoric instead of just letting go of fiction and hate and joining the rest of us living in the 21st century… Shameful!

    http://www.redcross.org/
    http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/
    https://www.facebook.com/atheistshelpingthehomeless

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