How to give to charities without getting taken by a scam

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Reporter- Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist- David Dycus

PADUCAH- 'Tis the season of sharing and giving, but it's also the time of year scam artists come out of the woodwork trying to take advantage of giving Americans.

Reanna Smith-Hamblin, the Vice President of Communications for the Better Business Bureau of Western Kentucky told WPSD everyone needs to do their homework before digging into their wallets.

"Make sure you know who you're talking to, whether you get a phone call or have someone knocking on your door, make sure you check them out first," she said.

She said a lot of organizations need help this time of year, but any serious charity will understand if you don't want to donate on the spot.

"Any kind of legitimate charity is going to take your money later so don't feel obligated to give that money right then and there," she said.

Gayron Ferguson, President of The Hugs Project of Western Kentucky knows what it's like to be in constant need of donations. He and his volunteer staff stuff care packages and send them overseas to soldiers. They send them year round, but also send more for Christmas. They have between 1200 and 1500 names on their list and only 257 boxes ready to go so far. 

"A little at a time, but we'll get there," he said. 

Ferguson said he works hard to let people know his organization is part of a larger national organization and sends people to the website for more information. He also said he gives donors the opportunity to see their donations at work. 

"One of the things people can do here that you can't do with a lot of the places is you can actually come in and help," he said. "There's always a need for volunteers."

Smith-Hamblin agrees that time is often the safer donation, if someone is weary of donating money. She also warns people from donating online on an unprotected site. She said you can tell it's safe if the web address starts with https://.

She also advises to checkout charities online on the BBB website or on watchdog sites like charitynavigator.com and guidestar.com


 

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