Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Alloway II, who represents Franklin, Adams and a sliver of York counties, is urging local residents to verify the charitable status of organizations that solicit donations during the holiday season.
“The holidays are a popular time for many individuals and families to support charities, but it is important to make sure these donations are really being used to help those in need,” Alloway said.
Alloway suggests that verifying the charitable status of an organization will ensure more worthy causes benefit from the generosity of local residents and fewer dollars are lost to fraud.
Consumers may contact the Department of State Bureau of Charitable Organization’s toll-free hotline at 800-732-0999 or the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 to learn more about a particular charitable organization or to report a fraudulent or deceptive solicitation practice in Pennsylvania.
• Reed also warned residents to be leery of a scam involving the online site Craigslist. He says to follow the guidelines spelled out by Craigslist when making the transaction and when dealing with possible buyers.
• Resist pressure. Legitimate companies and charities will be happy to give you time to make a decision. It’s probably a scam if they demand that you act immediately or won’t take “no” for an answer.
• Beware of “dangerous downloads.” In downloading programs to see pictures, hear music, play games, you could download a virus that wipes out your computer files or connects your modem to a foreign telephone number, resulting in expensive phone charges.
• Beware of sound-alikes. Some crooks try to fool people by using names that are very similar to those of well-known charities.
• Several utility scams are gaining steam across the nation. In one, the caller or emailer says you have to provide personal information to receive cash benefits to pay your utility bill. The other tells the victim that they are three months or so behind in their utility bills and they need to pay the bill now or their service will be shut off immediately.
Both target senior citizens. Both are bogus.
The theme here? When in doubt, check it out. Never, EVER, ever send any money to someone you do not know. Call some of the numbers listed above or your local police department. They can help advise you or direct you to someone who can.
Good luck and be diligent.
Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at 301-791-7281 or at email@example.com. Get Tri-State news updates on Twitter at HMinPA or HMinWV.