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Be wary of holiday charity scams
Officials offer advice on safe giving
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Forsyth County News

On the Net

Check out these Web sites for information on charities and more tips on giving wisely.
• Charity Watch: www.charitywatch.org
• GuideStar: www2.guidestar.org


The holiday season is often a key time of year for charities to seek donations, but it can also be a favorite time for charity scammers as well.

A little research can go a long way in protecting oneself and ensuring a donation goes where intended, said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Frank Huggins.

“At this time of year, it seems some of the worst people come out of the woodwork,” Huggins said. “It’s always important ... especially at this time of year, to give money only to charities that someone is familiar with.”

If unfamiliar with a charity, he said, ask for literature or visit a Web site like www.charitywatch.org to verify that the nonprofit is registered and rated well.

According to Huggins, some general rules of safety include: never give over the phone or to door-to-door solicitors; don’t donate to anyone who is pushy; plan charitable gifts in advance; donate only by check; and never share any personal information.

He said anyone who has been victimized or thinks they may have been a target should notify the sheriff’s office.

Huggins suggested that well-known local organizations can be a reliable place to give donations that will impact the community.
United Way of Forsyth County, which disburses funds to many local nonprofits, verifies all the charities with which it works, said Ruth Goode, executive director.

The general rule of thumb when giving, she said, is to know the charity.

She recommended that people visit www2.guidestar.org to ensure that a nonprofit is registered.

“A lot of folks here in Forsyth County are familiar with the local charities,” Goode said. “So it’s probably not too hard for most folks to figure out who they want to give to.”

Money isn’t the only way to contribute, said Goode, who suggested volunteering or donating food or toys.

The holidays can be a time where people use scams that appeal to the good will of spirited givers, she said.

“Unfortunately, that does happen,” Goode said. “During times like these, when some folks are a little more desperate because of unemployment and things like that, it just pays to be a little more vigilant in looking at where you give.”