Attorney General urges caution when donating to help Orlando victims
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is warning Hoosiers to be careful as they offer aid to Orlando victims—particularly when it comes to donating money.
Early Sunday morning, a gunman entered a bar and opened fire killing and injuring more than four dozen people. The massacre is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Charity organizations and nonprofits are assisting the families of the victims. People across the nation, including here in Indiana, are looking for ways to help.
“Hoosiers are always first in line to give their time and money to support others when tragedy strikes,” Zoeller said in a statement. “But we can’t let scam artists take advantage of that good will. Make sure to do your research before you donate, so that you know your contribution will truly go to support the victims of this horrific act.”
Here are a few tips Zoeller’s office suggested:
Determine if the charity is legitimate
- Ask or look for written information on the organization or cause, including a contact name, address, telephone number and mission statement.
- Check out the Internal Revenue Service’s website that maintains a list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
- Watch out for charities with similar sounding names. Some unscrupulous charities use names that are very similar to those of respected organizations to scam consumers.
Determine how your donation will be used
- Watch out for vague appeals that don’t clarify how the funds will be used. Know exactly how and when your donation will be used.
- Before donating, contact one of the organizations listed on the Attorney General’s website that collect financial information on charities so that you know the amount of money a charity spends on fundraising and administrative expenses compared to the amount they spend on actual programs and services.
- Know whether you are donating to a charity or an advocacy group.
Watch out for phishing scams
- Do not click on pop-up solicitations or reply to emails asking for donations. These are likely phishing scams.
- Be suspicious if a caller or invoice thanks you for making a pledge that you didn’t make. If you have any doubt about whether you made a pledge, check your records.
Exercise caution when donating online or to crowdfunding platforms
- With crowdfunding projects, it is difficult to know whether the solicitations are for legitimate causes. If they are not, it may be very difficult for those who donated to get their money back.
- Consider donating only to people you personally know or established charities.
- If you do donate via crowdfunding, check that collected monies are received and administered by a third party, such as a bank. This will help provide oversight to ensure that collected funds are used appropriately.
- Check to see if the crowdfunding effort is backed by a registered 501(c)(3).
Never wire money or use a pre-paid debit card to make a donation
- Always make contributions by credit card or check and payable to the charitable organization, not to the solicitor.
Know that you can cancel a pledge prior to making a contribution
- Under Indiana law, a contributor has the right to cancel a pledge for monetary contributions at any time prior to making the contribution.
Hoosiers who believe they are the victim of a scam should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. To file a complaint, go to www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 800-382-5516.
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