Maryland Secretary of State and Attorney General Warn Donors to Beware of Charity Scams in Light of Ukraine Crisis – Southern Maryland News Net
The Maryland Secretary of State and Attorney General warn that while calls for charitable donations may increase as the crisis in Ukraine escalates, it is important to do your research before donating. There are several ways to donate to causes related to Ukraine, while ensuring that donations go to a reputable organization.
“Scam artists look for every opportunity to take advantage of the generosity of well-meaning donors,” said Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith. “If you choose to donate to help alleviate pain and suffering in Ukraine, be vigilant and donate wisely to reputable and well-established charities.”
The Office of the Secretary of State registers and regulates charitable organizations that solicit contributions in Maryland. With the assistance of the Attorney General of Maryland, the Secretary of State enforces Maryland’s charitable donation laws to ensure that donations are used for their intended purpose. Visit the Secretary of State website for tips on how to donate safely to charities.
“We are committed to connecting Maryland donors with tools and guidance on how to give wisely,” Attorney General Frosh said. “Maryland is home to a number of charities worthy of your generosity. As our hearts reach out to the people of Ukraine, it’s important to be prepared and do your research before donating.
Tips to avoid a charity scam:
- Do some research before donating and visit an online resource, such as Charity Navigator, which can provide detailed information on thousands of charities. Look for the charity’s name and the terms “complaint”, “review”, “rating” or “scam” for potential red flags.
- If a telemarketer calls asking for a donation over the phone, don’t agree to donate right away. Ask questions of the telemarketer, such as how much of each donation goes to the program, how the organization fulfills its mission, what percentage of the money it raises is used for program services, whether contributions are tax deductible and how much goes to fundraising and administrative. Also, ask the caller to email or post information before deciding to give. If they refuse, it is a red flag that the “charity” may not be legitimate. Never share personal information over the phone.
- Beware of names that only sound like well-known charities, but aren’t. Pay close attention to the name and logo to make sure they match the intended charity before donating.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General offers advice on giving wisely that can be found here.
Maryland law requires charities to register with the Secretary of State and disclose their financial and programmatic activities to the public. You can search the Maryland Charities Database found here to see if a charity is registered in Maryland.
If you believe you have been the victim of charity fraud or scam, contact the Office of the Secretary of State, Charities and Legal Services Division by email: [email protected] or phone: 410-974-5534.
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