Happy holidays, don’t get scammed

    Image by Erika Wittlieb from Pixabay.

    It’s the holiday season, which means the spirit of giving is high, but it also means that there are those among us who would seek to prey on that charity and generosity by scamming people.

    In a news release called, “How the Grinch Stole Your Donation,” the Ohio Attorney General’s Office is offering tips and resources for Ohioans to make sure their online giving is secure.

    “Each year brings new, easier ways to give to charities with smart phones and social media,” the release says. “Online giving often makes the donation process easier for charities and for donors, but there are things to consider before giving online.”

    Here are the office’s tips to be aware of:

    • Do not assume that charity recommendations on social media sites have already been vetted. Donors should research the charity, including whether it is registered, on the “Research Charities” section on the attorney general’s website.
    • Be cautious of “look-alike” websites and charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes they are simply intended to confuse donors.
    • Make sure the donation website is secure. Look for the “s” in “https” at the beginning of the web address, which means the site is secure.
    • Watch out for emotional appeals. Scammers know it just takes a click to donate online and can capitalize on the convenience and spirit of giving with fake pictures and stories.
    • Determine what percentage of the donation will go to the charity and whether there will be any fees for donating.
    • Identify what the website will do (if anything) with personal information; and be wary of websites that do not provide a privacy policy.
    • Donors can also check the following resources to learn more about specific charities: IRS Select CheckBBB Wise Giving AllianceCharity Navigator, and GuideStar.
    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.