The holiday season will soon be upon us. This is a time when many people give to charities. In particular, you will most likely be contacted by numerous people soliciting charitable contributions on behalf of organizations purporting to support the brave men and women who make up our police and fire departments. Unfortunately, many of those solicitations will be from scammers merely looking to steal money under false pretenses. Whenever you are solicited by phone, you can never be sure who is really contacting you. Even if your Caller ID indicates that the call is coming from a legitimate source, as I have mentioned many times scammers use a simple technique called “spoofing” to manipulate your Caller ID to make their calls appear to come from a legitimate source when the truth is that the call is coming from a scammer. In addition, even if you are on the Federal Do No Call List, the law permits charities to call you, however, unfortunately you can never be sure when you receive a call that purports to be from a charity whether the call is legitimate or not. Similarly when you receive a text message or email solicitation for a charity, you have no way of knowing if the solicitation is from a scammer or a legitimate charity.
Recently police departments around the country have been warning people about a text message scam where people are receiving text messages that appear to come from the local police offering $10 off a hoodie that shows support for the local police department and comes with a link through which you can make a purchase.
In regard to the text message scam now circulating, it is important to remember whenever you get a text message, you can’t be sure as to who is really contacting you. Even if the call appears to come from your local police department, scammers can manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear that the call is legitimate when it is not. If you think the text message may be legitimate, merely contact your local police department at a telephone number you know is legitimate to determine whether or not the text message was a scam (at which time you will find out that it is a scam).
Phony charities often have names that sound legitimate and it is difficult to know merely from a solicitation whether or not the charity is a fake. Other times, scammers will use the name of a legitimate charity when they solicit you by phone, email or text message and you can never be sure when you are contacted by email or text message whether or not the solicitation is legitimate. Prior to giving to any charity, I suggest you first look into whether indeed the charity is legitimate or not and the best way I know to do that is to go to http://www.charitynavigator.org where not only can you find out whether the charity is a scam, but also whether or not your donation will be tax deductible, how much of your donation goes toward the charitable purposes of a legitimate charity and how much goes toward salaries, administrative costs and fund raising. Charitynavigator.org will also give you access to the websites and phone numbers of legitimate charities you may wish to consider giving to so you can feel confident when you make a gift that it is going to the right place.
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