Avoiding Holiday Scams

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Holidays are the time for giving but how can you be sure your hard earned dollars are actually going to a good cause? News 25’s Katarina Luketich shows how you can be cautious before opening up your wallet and falling for a holiday scam.
‘Tis the season of giving, nearly a third of all charitable donations will be given in these last few months of the year.
You might remember donation boxes disguised with the Habitat for Humanity logo that made their way around the Coast last winter. Those boxes were not put out by Habitat but rather a private company, which was not a legitimate non-profit. Habitat for Humanity Director of Development and Communication Adele Lyons said, “It was misleading folks that they were helping us and we never have those types of donation boxes around the community.”
An easy way to avoid getting scammed is to stick with what you know such as prominent organizations like the Salvation Army or local charities where you can go in and talk to people about how your donation will be used. In short, never blindly donate to a cause you know nothing about. “Do a little investigation. Where it looks like it is right, it may not always be,” said Lyons.
The Biloxi Police Department says the most prevalent type of holiday scams they see are phone scams. If those on the other end of the line have a knack for making you feel guilty, police offer a way to get around it. Sergeant Jackie Rhodes said, “If somebody calls you and says I’d like you to donate to this cause just tell them ‘well, you have my phone number, you probably have my address. Send me the paperwork, I’ll look at it, I’ll research it and if it’s something I want to donate to, I’ll donate that way.’”
While your heart may be open this holiday season, charitable organizations and police hope you will remain cautious before opening your wallet as well.
If you do fall prey to a holiday scam or suspect one in your area, report it immediately. Even if the police can’t help you, you might be the one who helps put the scam to an end.

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