Officials warn community members to watch out for charitable scams during this season of giving

MARYLAND – As a society where technology is always evolving, scams are unfortunately a part of that world.

On Monday, Maryland Secretary of State, John Wobensmith held a virtual town hall meeting to give donors tips and tricks on how to avoid being scammed by people posing as reputable charities.

“It would be a shame if people became afraid of giving because they were scammed,” says President and CEO of United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore, Pam Gregory.

According to local law enforcement, crimes involving scams are showing just how serious scams are getting.

“Especially in the last 18 to 24 months, we are seeing more online scams so we’re constantly trying to educate our residents so that they’re not victimized,” says Worcester County Sheriff, Matt Crisafulli. He tells 47 ABC, it’s all about being more cautious. “Go to the source, do some reference checks, and when they start asking for personal information, that’s a red flag you should immediately hang up.”

Meanwhile, Gregory says it’s what people should think about when being asked to donate.

“How that dollar is going to help create a better situation not only for the non-profit being able to do the work but how it ultimately makes an impact in their local community.” She says if that non-profit can’t answer your questions, then that should cause alarm.

Officials also addressed keeping a record of your payments, and writing down names and call-back numbers. Sheriff Crisafulli adds, as these scams become more creative, it’s important to be proactive.

“These are very complex investigations that our detectives have to work on, but we’re trying to stay ahead of the game to educate the residents and our community so that they’re not victimized,” says Sheriff Crisafulli.

Gregory adds, at a time of the year when real non-profits need donations, this can cause hesitancy.

“The last thing we as in a non-profit community need is for people to be afraid to support their community and you don’t want that.”

Sheriff Crisafulli also tells us, if any organization or person is asking you to pay over the phone or through gift cards, that’s a huge red flag. He says your best bet is to go to a reputable local non-profit directly in person or to their website and donate that way.

Gregory says online sources like GuideStar are places where donors can go to look up a non-profit, and check it’s reputable and legit.

Officials want to remind readers if you believe you’ve been scammed, you should contact your local law enforcement or the federal trade commission.

Categories: Crime, Local News, Maryland