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Rip-Off Alert: Scams already using Boston Marathon tragedy

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Updated: 4/18/2013 10:37 am
LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is warning consumers about possible charitable donation scams after the attack during the Boston Marathon.

“I applaud Nevadans and others around the country who are generously supporting victims in need after the unconscionable attack at the Boston Marathon earlier this week,” Masto said. “You can give wisely by conducting research before selecting a charity to donate your money.”

During times of tragedy, charities will often solicit donations to support victims. Some are reputable and worthy of financial support from the public. However, some may engage in questionable tactics or mislead the public about the use of donations.

According to reports, more than 125 website domain names relating to the Boston Marathon explosions were registered within an hour of the tragedy Monday.

To best assure that your donation will be used for its intended purpose, the Attorney General's Office offers the following suggestions:

• 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.

Anyone with information about a suspicious charity is urged to call John McGlamery, Senior Deputy Attorney General at (775) 684-1169.

-- From news release
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