Anyone thinking of making some last-minute donations in 2012 for tax purposes, should be on alert for scam artists looking to take advantage of that giving spirit, says Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
The Attorney General's office offered several tips for avoiding charity scams. The first suggestion is to "do the homework," researching the charity using its website, validating if it is accredited by an organization such as the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance or checking its license.
Potential givers are also encouraged to sidestep solicitations. If a charity calls out of the blue, be cautious. The guidelines also warn that people should be wary of appeals that look like an invoice, as such a practice can be illegal.
Despite the Dec. 31 deadline for tax purposes, resist the urge to rush, add fraud prevention experts. If a charity is legitimate, they'll accept a donation anytime. Finally, never give cash to a charity, the Attorney General's office warns. Checks should be made it out directly to that charity, and banking or credit card information should never be shared. In addition, it's best to never use a money transfer company to send money to someone who you haven't met, the AG's office says.