Charity Scams During the Holiday Season

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Beware of scam charities and other deceptive solicitation practices.

Charities in Maryland and beyond rely upon the generosity of donors to assist those in need, and many amplify their messaging during the holidays. Sadly, scam artists often take advantage of this season of giving, and Marylanders should be especially cautious to protect themselves and their loved ones from fraudulent fundraising.

All charities that solicit money in Maryland must first register with the Office of the Secretary of State. The Maryland Charities Database can be used to confirm if a charity is authorized to raise money in Maryland.

Prospective donors should consider the following red flags to determine whether a charity is worthy of their support:
  • Did the charity refuse to answer any questions?
  • Did the organization refuse to send written material or financial information?
  • Did the solicitor offer to send a person to collect the contribution?
  • Did the charity send an invoice or statement that indicates a payment due for a contribution that was never pledged?
  • Does the organization’s name and logo closely resemble another charity with a similar purpose?
Marylanders should also remember that they have the right to change their minds after pledging to make a donation for any reason. They may also call 800-825-4510 to check if a charity is registered.

The Secretary of State’s Office investigates complaints about charity fraud. To report a potential scam, contact the Investigations Unit at 410-260-3859 or 800-825-4510.
 
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