Beware of Boston Marathon donation scams, officials say - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Beware of Boston Marathon donation scams, officials say

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The Nevada Attorney General encourages donations in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing but cautioned donors of possible charitable scams.

Catherine Cortez Masto said people who are solicited of financial donations may be preyed upon by fake charities that use questionable tactics or mislead the public about the use of proceeds.

Masto, citing reports, said more than 125 website domain names relating to the Boston Marathon explosions within an hour of the incident Monday.

The attorney general's office listed the following tips to make sure donations will be used for its intended purpose:

Know your charity. Take the time to verify the address, phone number, contact information, and review the website and written material, when possible. Consider a charity's history, purpose, track record and reputation, and never give to a charity you know nothing about. If you have any doubts, well established charities with experience in disaster relief or organizations established with support from government agencies are generally a good choice.

If you are contributing over the internet, make sure that the website you are visiting belongs to a legitimate, established, and registered charity, and that the website and the charity match. See if other legitimate websites will link to that website. After tragedies, unscrupulous individuals will use the internet to perpetrate fraud. Make sure that the website you visit is operated by the charity you want to donate to. Also, you should make sure the site is secure and will offer protection for your credit card number.

Use websites such as the Better Business Bureau's Charity Navigator, where you will find additional information to help you understand a large number of charities. Examine your options. Do not feel compelled to give to the first charity you come across. There are a number of established organizations already responding to the diverse needs created by the tragedy; in time there may also be legitimate, smaller charities that will emerge to focus on specific populations and communities.

Instead of responding to a telemarketing call, do your own research to find an appropriate charity. It is your hard earned money, so give it to the charity which will do the most good.

Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion. A legitimate charity will tell you how it is using your money to address this horrific disaster.

Ask questions. How much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fundraiser? Ask who employs the telephone solicitor, if your contribution is tax deductible and what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions that might remain after the victims' needs are addressed.

Beware of professional fundraisers who try to make their solicitations sound like they are coming directly from the charity itself or volunteers.

Do not pay by cash. Pay by check, and make it out to the charity (use its full name; don't use initials), not the fundraiser. Never give your credit card number to a fundraiser over the telephone. If a fundraiser directly approaches you, ask to see identification. It is best to mail your check directly to the charity.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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