Beware of Donation Scams This Holiday Season

The holiday season is all about giving, but the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office warns to be careful of where you decide to give. Now is a prime time for fake organizations and charities to prey on those with a good heart.

This time of year is the season of giving, but unfortunately, there are people who are more about helping themselves than helping others. Sergeant Jackie Rhodes of the Biloxi Police Department says, "A lot of people wait until that time of year to donate to worthy causes and everything and the bad guys know that, and they’ll pick on people when they’re most vulnerable."

An easy way to not be fooled is to stick with what you know. Donate to charities that are recognized worldwide or are prominent in your community, such as the Salvation Army or Biloxi’s Back Bay Mission. Dereck Eady, Marketing Director for Back Bay Mission, says, "You give locally. You can go to that charity, you know you can actually talk to their executive director, talk to the staff and personnel, and just find out where those funds are going, and if those funds are being appropriated as you want them to be."

The Biloxi Police Department says phone scams are the most common in the Gulf Coast area, and warn never to give personal information over the phone without doing your homework. Rhodes also says, "Have them just send you the information and you look at it and if you want to donate, then you can, and it gives you the chance to check them out with the Attorney General’s office and or the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are legit."

Some other tips are to always get receipts, especially for cash donations, and if you’re looking for a tax break. Also, volunteer cautiously. Know the organization you’re representing. Eady closes, "My prayer is that is that they be caught because it’s difficult enough times and people want to hole, but they also need to make sure their funds are going where they intended and where their hearts are."

Finally, if you are a victim of a scam, report it immediately. Even if the police can’t help you, they can help others stay alert.

Categories: Local News, News

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