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Coakley Issues Charity Scam Warning After Boston Marathon Bombings

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Attorney General Martha Coakley

Attorney General Martha Coakley

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BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley wants people to be aware of potential charity scams related to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Most charities that solicit donations during tragedies are reputable and worthy of financial support, such The One Fund Boston, Coakley’s office said in a prepared statement. But others may “engage in questionable tactics or mislead the public about the use of donations,” she said.

More than 125 website domain names related to the Boston Marathon explosions were registered within an hour of Monday’s attack, according to Coakley.

“After the unconscionable attack at the Boston Marathon, there has been an outpouring of support from people who want to help,” Coakley said. “We urge people from Massachusetts and across the country to continue to support the victims and those impacted by this horrific event. We also encourage people to do their homework on the charity before giving to ensure their money will go to the purpose they intend.”

Online scams are a particular concern, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbra Anthony said.

“Our office received reports just this morning that a mere four hours after the attack at the marathon, over 125 domain names were registered to collect money for the victims and several fraudulent twitter accounts were opened asking for money as well,” Anthony said. “It is unspeakable that anyone would sink to capitalize on Boston’s sorrow as we recover from this tragedy. We remind consumers to exercise caution and do their homework before reaching out to help.”

The AG’s office offers the following donation security tips:

  • When contributing online, make sure the website is associated with an established charity. And make sure the website is secure and offers protection for your credit card information.
  • Check to see whether a charity is registered and filing information with the AG’s Charities Division. Registration information can be found online at www.mass.gov/ago/charitiesreports.
  • Never give to a charity you know nothing about. Verify a charity’s address, phone number and contact information.
  • Examine your options. Information about a range of charities is available online at Charitynavigator.org and BBB.org/charity.
  • Be wary of overly emotional appeals. Legitimate charities will focus their fund-raising requests on how your money will be used to help.
  • Ask questions such as whether your contribution is tax deductible and how much of your donation will go to the charity as opposed to paying professional fund-raisers.
  • Do not pay with cash. Pay with check made payable to the charity’s full name. Never give your credit care information over the phone to a fund-raiser. Mail contributions directly to the charity.

For inquiries or complaints about charitable solicitations, call the Attorney General’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-727-2200, ext. 2101.

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