Attorney General’s Office warns of charity scams during Giving Tuesday, holiday season

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Office of the Indiana Attorney General is warning citizens this Giving Tuesday and throughout the holiday season to be careful about who you donate to.

“Sadly that is the day and age we that live in right now. There are a lot of scams out there whether they are through your email, your voicemail, through your phone, there are a lot of people out there scamming everyday citizens,” Director of Consumer Protection for the AG’s Office Betsy Isenberg said. “They are going to be out there regardless whether it’s Giving Tuesday or the day after Christmas.”

Isenberg said some tips to help you not get scammed include donate using checks instead of cash, never donate over the phone or through emails and keep an eye out for charities with similar sounding names.

“If you want to give money to a specific charity, go to that charity’s website or mail them a check at their address so you know that is their address,” Isenberg said.

Local charities around Indianapolis said Giving Tuesday is a critical day for them and now with the prevalence of scams, they must make sure their donors know they are legitimate and are spending their money in responsible ways.

“We absolutely have to. We think about it every day,” College Mentors for Kids CEO Shelley Hunter said.

College Mentors for Kids is an Indianapolis-based charity that started at Butler and IU 20 years ago.

To make sure donors know their money is being spent wisely, the organization publishes annual reports and other financial statements on its website and on Guide Star, an independent organization that vets charities.

“We are a gold star charity with Guide Star so we do things along the way to ensure that we are in high stature with the big organizations that watch non-for-profits,” Hunter said.

To find a comprehensive list of other organizations that vet charities visit the Attorney General’s website.