Donors warned to watch for scams in the wake of Boston Marathon - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Donors warned to watch for scams in the wake of Boston Marathon bombing

CHICAGO (KFVS) -

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is urging Illinoisans who want to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings to do some research before they donate.

Donors should be on the lookout for fundraising scams. Madigan warns con artists may seek to exploit the terrible tragedy for personal profit.

"In the wake of such a horrible tragedy, people understandably want to do what they can to help others in need," Madigan said. "Unfortunately though, scam artists try to take advantage of this goodwill. I urge Illinois residents who want to make charitable contributions to research before donating. Taking that extra step will help ensure your donations reach legitimate causes that will directly benefit the victims."

Under Illinois law, fundraisers and charities are required to register each year with the Attorney General's Office. To assist potential donors in making wise giving decisions, Attorney General Madigan provides information about charities.

Attorney General Madigan suggests you only donate to charities you know and trust. Be on the lookout for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events, like the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Lisa Madigan's Office also offers the following tips for safe giving:

• Be especially careful online. Make sure 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. Also, make sure the site is secure.

• Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, GuideStar and the Attorney General's office.

• Be wary of urgent appeals that play on your emotions for aid. Do not donate if the solicitor uses high-pressure tactics, asks for cash payment or insists on sending someone to pick up your donation. These are all hallmarks of a scam.

• Ask how much of your donation will go to the charitable work and how much will be used to pay fund-raising costs. If you don't get a clear answer, or if you don't like the answer you get,  consider donating to a different organization.

• Never send cash. You can't be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won't have a record for tax purposes. And, don't give out personal or financial information until you have reviewed all the information from the charity and verified its legitimacy.

If you think someone is using the Boston bombing or any other cause to scam you out of money contact the attorney general's Charitable Trust Bureau to report suspicious solicitations at (312) 814-2595.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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