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Scam Artists Take a Charitable Angle During the Holidays

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December 5, 2011

BALTIMORE - There are plenty of tax advantages in making donations to a charity, and many people dole out the biggest donations to their favorite causes at year's end. Scam artists know that, so they're out in full force in Maryland during the holiday season.

Jo Rosen, director of estate and asset services for the American Cancer Society, says that if you are solicited by an unfamiliar charity, be sure to check it out first, before you send off a donation.

"It's always good to go to their website, look them up on Charity Navigator, and actually call."

Rosen says reputable charities are more than happy to give you all the information you need to donate wisely. Charity Navigator, Guidestar and the Better Business Bureau post important information, including what percentage of donation dollars goes to administrative costs, and how much is spent on direct services.

Rosen says it shouldn't be difficult to get details on a charity's finances.

"It's all public information. So, any time a charity doesn't have that information public, I would be concerned."

Donations aren't always about writing a check. Rosen says people can volunteer at their favorite charity. And some older people who want to leave a legacy may be able to roll over IRA contributions, tax-free, to a nonprofit cause.

Information on ways to give is at tinyurl.com/73pbfa9. Charity information is at charitynavigator.org

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD