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Experts Advise How To Avoid “Charity” Scams During Holidays

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.

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