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Beware of holiday scams

Posted November 16, 2010 7:49 p.m. EST

Everyone wants your money; just don’t be too quick to hand it over!

The holidays are always a time for giving! That’s why so many people, groups and agencies ask for donations this time of year.

Many of us like to give to those in need -- we like to believe we’re making a difference. It makes us feel good. But you’ve really got to be careful to make sure that your donations are going to a good cause and NOT into the pockets of scammers.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says on average, charities get just slightly more than 40 percent of the money collected by telemarketers on their behalf. But some telemarketers actually keep 80 to 90 percent!

Ask what percentage of your donation would benefit the charity. Under state law, the telemarketer must give you that information in writing within 14 days. You can check out a charity at CharityWatch.org


Some other ways to make sure your money will be used the way you want: Instead of giving to a charity that solicits you, find one that’s doing work you support or that someone you know is involved with. You can also donate directly to an organization instead of through a telemarketer.

A couple of things to watch out for according to the Attorney General: telemarketers that won’t answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you for a credit card number. NEVER give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who calls you.

Also, beware of questionable websites and e-mails. Scammers use copycat web sites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors into giving up their money and their personal information. Beware of e-mails from people you don’t know asking you to give, and never follow links in suspect emails.

And Cooper says keep in mind, not all contributions to non‑profits are tax deductible. For example, small businesses are often asked to place ads in publications as a way to help worthy causes. But the magazines may be published by for‑profit publishers.

And don’t forget, donating your time as a volunteer for a non-profit and/or a charity may be the best donation of all! It helps them a lot, and is bound to make you feel good, without costing a dime!

About this Blog:

In addition to the stories you see on TV, Monica is always looking for ways to help consumers find deals and avoid fraud. She'll blog about what you need to know here.