(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine reminded Ohioans today to be smart when making holiday charitable donations and also unveiled a new tool to aid in those efforts: an online search of registered charities in good standing with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“Many Ohioans show their holiday spirit by making donations to charities and non-profit organizations. Most are legitimate appeals and solicitations; however, if Ohioans are unsure of an organization to which they are considering giving money, our Online Charitable Registration Search can help provide useful information,” Attorney General DeWine said.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office today began offering an Online Charitable Registration Search at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/CharitableSearch, which allows potential donors to verify if an organization is registered and in good standing. The Office’s Charitable Law Section recently updated the registration process for charitable trusts in Ohio to an online filing system. All organizations whose fiscal years ended on or after November 2011 will be required to use the online registration system. As organizations file online within the next year, potential donors will also be able to review financial reports and see how much of every dollar donated goes to charitable work.
“Most charities and nonprofits are legitimate and do great work, but it is very difficult to recover money imprudently spent by organizations. Prevention is the best remedy, and by offering Ohioans the chance to see how donations are spent and if a charity is registered, the Attorney General’s Website can provide Ohioans the information to make smart donation decisions,” said Attorney General DeWine.
Many organizations solicit donations through holiday appeals or requests for year-end donations. Solicitations can come in a variety of ways: through the mail, online, by phone, or in person. As in all cases where consumers are asked to give money, Ohioans should make sure their contributions will truly be used how they intend instead of being taken by a scammer.
Common warning signs of possible scams include:
- The charity’s name is similar to a well-known, nationally recognized charity.
- Callers use high-pressure tactics to request immediate donations.
- The caller is hesitant or unable to answer questions.
- The caller offers to pick up donations immediately instead of waiting to receive them in the mail.
- The caller offers prizes in return for a donation.
- The caller requests checks to be made payable to a person instead of the charity.
Donors should never provide banking or credit card information to unexpected telephone callers. Asking lots of questions and asking to review written information in advance of making a gift is also wise. If anyone suspects charitable fraud or has questions about a charity or a professional solicitor, call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 282-0515.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840