BALTIMORE — Appeals for charitable donations will most certainly surge as Ellicott City recovers from the effects of the recent flooding that devastated the area for the second time in 22 months. As the public demand for donations increase for Main Street, Ellicott City, many Marylanders may feel compelled to donate. For those that do choose to make a donation to support those in the impacted areas, the Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh advise consumers to be vigilant to donate wisely.
“In the aftermath of these devastating floods, scam artists may attempt to prey on your generosity and use all types of scams, frauds or deceptive acts to line their own pockets,” warns Secretary Wobensmith. “Be sure you know who you are giving to and it is best to give directly to well-established charitable organizations.”
The Office of the Secretary of State registers and regulates charitable organizations that solicit charitable contributions in Maryland. Together with the Attorney General’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office works to ensure that charitable contributions go to qualified charitable organizations and are used for their intended purpose. Visit http://sos.maryland.gov/Charity/Pages/Giving-Wisely.aspx on the SOS’s website for tips on how to give wisely to charities.
“Natural disasters often bring out the best in people, with neighbors helping neighbors,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Unfortunately, disasters also can bring out the worst in people, particularly those seeking to profit from the misfortune of others. It is always wise to research a charity first before donating, and avoid any charity or fundraiser that is reluctant to provide information on how donations are used.”
To find out whether a particular charity is registered in Maryland, the Secretary of State’s Office maintains a public registry http://sos.maryland.gov/Charity/Pages/SearchCharity.aspx.of charitable organizations authorized to solicit in Maryland. The Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division offers tips on giving wisely and can be found here http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/CPD%20Documents/Tips-Publications/147.pdf.
If you believe you may have been a victim of a deceptive or illegal charitable solicitation, you should contact the Charities and Legal Services Division of the Secretary of State’s Office at 410-260-3859