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Sheriff's office warns of fake charities

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By Staff Reports

INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson County Sheriff’s Office has received a report of a possible fake charity attempting to raise funds for local police departments.
Sgt. D.B. Carner, crime prevention specialist for the sheriff’s department, researched the phone number of the caller and learned that it was an unregistered cell phone number from Mountain City, Tenn. In fact, the number was associated with more than 60 reports of fake charities involving disabled veterans, breast cancer research, child abuse prevention, police and fire departments.
“Fake charity scams make every attempt to look real. They may choose a name similar to a legitimate charity’s name or create a fake ID in the name of an actual charity, complete with a copy of the logo,” the sheriff’s department said in a press release. “These scam artists may use standard methods to collect ‘donations’ for their charity scams like setting up a table at a local mall or on the street, knocking on your door or making an e-mail or telephone request.”

Tips to Avoid Being Taken by a Charity Scam
• Find out what the charity will do with the money. Find out how much of your money will actually be used for charitable programs.
Ask charities to send you printed material by regular mail before you donate. If the material does not contain details on how the money will be used, do not contribute to the charity.
• Ask questions. Get the name, address, and phone number of the charity and check them out before giving.  Carner said the Sheriff’s Crime Prevention unit will research charities before people make a contribution. They can be reached at (276) 773-3241, ext. 30.  
• Verify with the charity directly that they have authorized the group or person collecting money on their behalf.
• Try not to donate cash to a charity. If you do write a check, make it out to the official charity name not to an individual person.
• Never provide sensitive personal information, such as Social Security number or driver’s license number, over the phone, when writing a check or when making a donation.
• Be very cautious about charity donation requests sent by e-mail.
Most legitimate charities do not use e-mail for their first solicitation. (Some legitimate charities will e-mail people who have donated before.)
• Do not feel pressured into giving. Choose the charities that YOU want to support in advance each year, decide your giving budget in advance for the year and contact those groups directly.
• If you do give to a charity, get a receipt with the name of the charity and the amount given. This helps you document the donation for your records and for your tax return.

Check Them Out First
The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance offers information about national charities.
It publishes standards for rating charities and rates more than 600 charities. Call (703) 276-0100 or visit www.give.org
The IRS provides a list of organizations that are eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Search the list by going to www.irs.gov or calling 1-877-829-5500.

If You Think You’ve Been Scammed
• Report the issue to the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office at (276) 773-3241.
• Contact the Federal Trade Commission via www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
• The Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is responsible for the administration of the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions Law. Contact them online at vdacs.virginia.gov or (804) 786-1343.