IN AG advises Hoosiers to take care when making donations during COVID-19 pandemic

Attorney General Curtis Hill said individuals should exercise caution when considering making charitable donations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hoosiers, by their very nature and values, tend to be a generous people eager to help their neighbors in times of crisis,” Hill said. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous scammers attempt to take advantage of such good-heartedness. These con artists aim to trick unsuspecting donors out of their hard-earned money by posing as legitimate charities.”

To avoid falling victim to deceptive schemes, follow these tips:

• Carefully scrutinize requests from organizations seeking donations purporting to be for charity.

• Don’t let names that sound like well-known charities confuse you or trick you into immediate donation. Beware of callers who claim to be endorsed by the state.

• If reached by phone, do not agree to donate money without further research into the organization. Don’t be pressured to make a donation over the phone.

• Research each organization or cause to which you might wish to donate.

• Do not share personal information or financial information in response to unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls.

• Be sure to ask how much of your donation will go directly to the program you want to help.

• If you are making a donation, make it by check or credit card rather than cash.

• Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate — or that hyperlinks are accurate — even in posts shared or liked by your friends. Contact your friends offline and request information about links they share.

• Go to a charity’s verified website and consider donating directly through the website. Legitimate donation websites should begin with “https” rather than just “http.”

• You can also look up a charity’s report and ratings on these websites:
    — Give.org
    — GuideStar.org
    — CharityWatch.org
    — CharityNavigator.org

Go online to report charity scams to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. If you need additional information regarding the Office’s Consumer Protection Division, please call 1-800-382-5516.

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