'Tis The Season To Be Scammed?

By: Ryan Rodig Email
By: Ryan Rodig Email

Wiregrass United Way CEO Walter Hill is proud of the donations coming into the organization this year.

"People are so generous really, in the Wiregrass throughout the year," Hill said. "But at this time they are very generous. They get into that giving mood whether it is giving a gift to their family, friend, co-worker or helping people in need."

But he and law enforcement officials are very aware that this is the time of the year were holiday scam artists go to work.

"For people that want to give to charity or any other contributions to other organizations make sure you know who it is going to be going to," said Capt. Antonio Gonzalez of the Houston County Sheriff's Office. "You have that right. Just simple questions like who is it going to and where is it going?"

Attorney General Troy King passed along some tips for those who want to donate this holiday season:

· Do not give cash. Contribute by check or money order made payable to the relief organization of your choice.

· Be wary of telephone or Internet solicitations. Absolutely do not give solicitors any of your personal financial information such as your credit card numbers or checking account numbers, and only give through established secure channels with which you are familiar or can verify.

· Ask questions about how your contribution will be used and be concerned if there is any hesitation in the answer.

· Say no to high pressure appeals, especially those attempting to hurry you into making a contribution.

Capt. Gonzalez says the age of the Internet means the elderly are no longer the main target of scams.

The Wiregrass United Way still needs help to reach its $2.6 million goal for the year. Currently they have reached 79% of that total.

He says giving to Wiregrass United Way is a safe and effective way to help 38 local agencies.

"They can stretch a dollar farther than most people," Hill said. "They are very good at that. They will use the money wisely. There are groups out there that target people this time of year, and try to scam people out of money. But when they give to United Way they can be assured their money will be well-spent right here in our area."

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