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Beshear Warns of Charity Scams as Holiday Season Approaches
Kentucky Ag Connection - 10/22/2020

As Kentucky families continue to battle COVID-19 and Thanksgiving and Christmas draw near, Gov. Andy Beshear is warning families to watch out for scammers who try to take advantage of generous Kentuckians.

The Governor is taking action to help protect Team Kentucky by publishing a Charitable Giving Guide that advises how to verify legitimate charities and avoid charity scams, which can increase during the Christmas season and as the tax season draws to an end.

"As we have faced the greatest challenge of our generation with COVID-19, we have seen so many compassionate Kentuckians step up to help others," Beshear said. "Team Kentucky always answers the call when another person needs assistance, which could make us a target for charity scams. Those happen year round, but tend to peak around the Thanksgiving and Christmas giving season. The Charitable Giving Guide will help Kentuckians ensure their hard-earned dollars are used to help their neighbors and are not stolen by scammers."

According to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2019, 23,645 Kentuckians reported fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019, with reported losses totaling $10.5 million.

The Charitable Giving Guide recommends the following tips:

1. Plan your giving in advance

Don't respond to mass charity solicitations, suspicious charity requests that scammers typically use on social media ads, by phone or through email. Make sure you are donating to a known charity with an established track record.

2. Research charities

Only donations made to qualified charities are tax-deductible. Donors who are not familiar with a charitable organization should verify their 501(c)(3) status and what percentage of their income goes to the charity's purpose. There are several online watchdog websites where donors can verify this information and look over charity reviews, leadership and annual report information.

o BBB Wise Giving Alliance

o Charity Navigator

o Charity Watch

o GuideStar

o IRS

o The Office of the Attorney General also maintains information on active charitable organizations registered in Kentucky and safe ways to give.

3. Identify a charity aligned with your values

Before making a donation, think about which organizations align with your values. Don't be afraid to ask a fundraiser about the organization's mission, goals and history of success in supporting veterans, children, animals, food insecurity or other worthy causes you care about. Consider if you want your donation to support a large or small, local, national or international charity.

4. Decide the appropriate donation level

Donate at an amount or level you are comfortable with, not giving in to any pressured upsells.

5. Donate safely

o Donate by credit card or check and keep records of your contributions.

o Never wire money or use gift cards to make a donation. If possible, don't use cash either.

6. Watch out for imposters

o Do not give out sensitive personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, birthday or bank account number.

o Be skeptical of unsolicited calls, emails and social media fundraising messages. Do not click on any links or open attachments.

o Be skeptical of social media ads and charities with similar sounding names or concepts. Make sure the website or mailing address you are sending your donation to is the correct, legitimate charity.

The Governor also reminded Kentuckians that they can support the Team Kentucky Fund.

So far, 1,308 households have been helped by the fund, with the average assistance to each household being $781. Nearly two-thirds, or $675,000, has helped Kentuckians pay rent or mortgage payments. Other major areas of funding include: more than $150,000 for groceries, more than $132,000 for electric bills, and more than $43,000 for natural gas, sewage, propane and waste bills.

Those who have been financially harmed by COVID-19 can visit TeamKYFund.ky.gov to apply for funding.

Kentuckians who would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Team Kentucky Fund can do so online.

As Attorney General, Beshear made it one of his office's core missions to fight scammers to protect Kentucky families, especially seniors and veterans who are frequently targeted.

For more information about charity scams, or to report charity fraud, call 1-888-432-9257, or visit https://secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/AttorneyGeneral/ScamReport.


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