How to avoid year-end charity scams

You might be approaching your holiday vacation, but scammers are still working overtime to get a piece of your generosity this time of year.

Charity scams typically come in the form of phone calls and e-mails, both from organizations you may or may not recognize. However, with some knowledge, you can make sure your donation doesn't end up in the wrong hands.

Attorney General Josh Stein has partnered with a number of agencies and organizations to give you some resources to look over before you give.

That includes visiting the Department of the Secretary of State Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division website. There, you can learn about an organization's background to make sure your donation ends up in the right place.

"While there are many deserving organizations that need our support to continue their good works, we all want to ensure that our hard-earned money is going to be spent wisely when we donate to our favorite causes," said Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

You can also view an annual report to see how much of your donation actually goes to the charity each year.

The department has created a "Smart Donor's Checklist" with a list of the proper questions to ask any solicitor. That includes asking whether or not a solicitor is part of a for-profit business, meaning they are hired to call and ask for donations.

Charity Navigator is another credible site that lets you research an organization to determine their legitimacy before donating. The website will let you know how much of the charity's collected donations goes to charitable works and access the tax forms of the charities before donating.

If the solicitor is pushy and demanding, remember that any true charity will accept your donation today, tomorrow, next week, or next month.