Scammers looking to target end-of-year charitable donations; Tips on how to avoid being ripped-off

DAYTON — Charitable donations are common by individuals and families at the end of the year, but scammers are also out there trying to take advantage of the giving spirit.

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The end of year marks the busiest and most important time of the year with a majority of donations coming in during the last months of the year.

“A lot of charities depend on the last quarter and especially the last month. Some of them get as high as 70 percent of their donations in the last quarter and usually they average 30-40 percent of whatever a charity receives it’s gonna happen in the last quarter,” Joe Baldasare, The Dayton Foundation Chief Development Officer told News Center 7′s John Bedell.

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“This is the busiest time of the year for the Dayton Foundation and frankly all charities.”

Unfortunately there are also scammers who try to get their hands on funds intended for good causes. Baldasare said one way to protect yourself is to not respond to phone calls and to ask organizations to send you information so you can do your own research before donating.

“There are a lot of similarly-sounding named organizations out there. And you say ‘oh, I’ve heard of them.’ Well, their name may be a little bit different and it may not be the charity that you think it is,” he said.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost talked with Bedell on the topic earlier during a one-on-one interview, and said scammers normally provide several red flags while trying to get you to donate but real charities will never ask for cash, gift cards, or money orders.

“They’ll take a credit card, they’ll take your personal check. So number one warning sign we’re seeing a lot of scam artists say, ‘Well, buy $200 worth of gift cards and we’ll make sure that they get to fill in the blank, the veterans, the children, the victims and no reputable charity does that,” Yost said.

More importantly never give information like your social security number or date of birth.

“If somebody’s asking for it, they’re probably trying to rip you off. Especially if they’re the ones who started the call. And lastly, check our web site. We not only have lots of alerts about scams and tips to avoid them, but you can also research our database and see whether the charity you’re looking for is in fact registered and in good standing in Ohio,” Yost said.

You can research charities that are registered and in good standing with the State of Ohio here.

Bottom line, both Yost and Baldasare said to give with your heart but be smart to protect your donation dollars.

“Do your due diligence, use your head and don’t be in a rush to contribute and just be cautious,” Baldasare said.