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Don't Let Scam Artists Take Advantage of Your Generosity

By Steve J. Wennblom

Fargo, ND – It is impossible to see the devastation caused by the recent tragedies in New York and Washington without wanting to help the victims and their families. As many charities and nonprofit organizations are springing into action to collect food, water money, and other supplies to assist the victims. The generous people of North Dakota will want to do their part to help.

But keep in mind that, unfortunately, this time of need is also a time of prey for scam artists.

So far, in North Dakota, no fundraising scams regarding the terrorist attacks have been reported. But, scam artists have taken advantage of catastrophies in the past.

Remember organizations conduct solicitations for relief in several ways:

- through the mail

- telephone

- door-to-door appeals

- solicitors stationed outside busy stores

- the Internet, announcements in magazines, newspapers, radio and television

All organizations should have written material available describing their programs, anticipated expenditures, and how they will carry out activities.

- Beware of fake websites

- Be wary of telephone or door-to-door

- Be skeptical of anyone who presses you for an immediate donation

- Ask where the money goes. Give money to organizations you know

- Beware of organizations with copycat names

- Confirm the fundraising activity by calling the organization

- Always make your donation by check not cash. Do not give out credit card numbers

Check out charities by contacting the Secretary of States Office (800-352-0867) or http://www.state.nd.us/sec to see if the organization is registered to solicit for charitable donations in the state of North Dakota.

The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division investigates allegations of fraud in the marketplace. If you have a consumer problem or question, call the Consumer Protection Division at 328-3404, toll-free at 1-800-472-2600, or 1-800-366-6888 (w/TYY)