A.G. Schneiderman Provides Tips To New Yorkers Aiding Victims Of The Boston Marathon Bombings

Tips Help Donors Be Sure They Are Making Contributions To Responsible Charities

Schneiderman: I Am Committed To Protecting New Yorkers From Scam Artists Who Prey On Their Generosity After A Tragedy

NEW YORK –   As the country mourns the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and prays for the speedy recovery of survivors, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman encouraged New Yorkers to give and offered the tips for those wishing to donate money to help victims and their families.

“New Yorkers have shown time and time again that they are kind and generous people who rise to the occasion and offer their support to victims of major tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.“I am committed to protecting New Yorkers from scammers who might look to take advantage of a tragedy to bilk people out of their charitable contributions. Anyone planning to make a charitable donation should be sure to review these tips to protect themselves and ensure help goes where it is intended.”

In the wake of media reports of donors being scammed by fake charities, Attorney General Schneiderman offers the following tips:

Check Before Giving. Donate to charities you are familiar with and carefully review information about the charity before you give. Most charities are required to register and file financial reports with the Attorney General's Office if they are raising money from the public. Check our website, www.charitiesnys.com, for financial reports of charities or ask the charity directly for its reports. Check to see if the charity is a tax-exempt organization. The following websites contain helpful information to evaluate charities:

•         American Institute of Philanthropy - www.charitywatch.org

•         Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance - www.bbb.org

•         Charity Navigator - www.charitynavigator.org

•         GuideStar - www.guidestar.org

Ask How Your Donation Will Be Used. Check how the charity plans to use your donation, including the services and individuals your donation will support. Avoid charities that make emotional appeals but are vague in answering your questions or that will not provide you with written information. Confirm that all of your contribution will be used to help victims of the bombings and whether you are able to restrict your gift to that purpose.

Be Wary of Newly Formed Organizations. Donate to charities you are familiar with, or that have experience assisting victims of tragedies. Often, in the aftermath of tragedies, new organizations are formed with claims that they will assist victims. While some of those organizations may be doing just that, others turn out to be scams. Before making a contribution to a new organization, find out who is running it and how it plans to use donations. If you are not satisfied with the answers or are not familiar with the organizers, consider giving to another charity.

Be Careful When Giving Through Social Media. As with other recent tragedies, social media sites are being used to raise money for victims of the bombings. Before giving through these sites, check out who is behind the fundraising efforts and ask the same questions you would of a charity.

Before You Text A Contribution: Check the charity’s website or call the charity to confirm it has authorized contributions to be made via text message. Keep in mind that donations via text messaging may not reach the charity until after your phone bill is paid. It may be faster to contribute directly to the charity.

Don't Give Cash. Give directly to the charity either by check made payable to the organization or through the charity's website.

Be Careful About Personal Information. Avoid giving credit card or personal information over the phone or by text message. In all cases, make sure you are familiar with the organization to which you give such information and check to see that the fundraising campaign is legitimate.

Avoid Unsolicited Spam Emails. These formats are usually not associated with legitimate charities. Check the Department of Homeland Security tips, such as Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks.

Report Suspicious Organizations. If you believe an organization is misrepresenting its work, or that a scam is taking place, please contact the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau at charities.complaints@ag.ny.gov.