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Give wisely to charity

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

This time of year is a popular one for giving.

Whether it’s for the holidays or to beat the end of the tax year, people donate a lot of money to charities in December. There’s no lack of places or causes to donate to locally, and we hope you consider giving to one of them.

Unfortunately, scam artists know this is a time of giving, too, and use the opportunity to prey upon unsuspecting people.

Before you decide to give to a charity, the IRS offers these tips to avoid being defrauded:

• Donate to qualified charities. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible.

• Be wary of charities with similar names. Some phony charities use names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. They may use names or websites that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations.

• Don’t give out personal financial information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.

• Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.

Additionally, the FBI offers these suggestions:

The FBI provides the following tips for consumers wishing to make contributions:

• Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.

• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via email for donations.

• Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.

• Be cautious of email claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

This is the season of giving. Take precautions to make sure you don’t become a victim of fraud because of your charity.

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