JEFFERSON-Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said the arrival of the holiday season means you should be extra vigilant for potential scams.
“It’s literally ‘tis the season to be scamming,” Williams said Nov. 18. “It’s the holidays and people are just primed to be generous. Unfortunately, these scammers know that, too, and will take advantage of it.”
Williams said he received a report that someone alleging to be collecting money for Disabled American Veterans had swindled several hundred dollars from local residents.
“This particular individual told people, convincingly enough, that they were raising money for a DAV charity ball that’s supposed to be coming up,” Williams said. “Only thing is, the DAV isn’t raising money for any ball. They are raising money to provide gifts to folks in nursing homes, but the charity ball thing is bogus.”
Williams said his staff is looking into the incident.
He said he’s also received recent reports of someone claiming to be raising money for law enforcement associations by phone.
“If somebody calls you and says they’re raising money for the Sheriff’s Association or anything else by phone – reach out to that organization directly if you want to donate money,” Williams said.
These kinds of charity scams are so prevalent the Federal Trade Commission maintains a page devoted solely to helping consumers avoid being hoodwinked.
The agency says to avoid any charity or fundraiser that:
- Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
- Won’t provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
- Uses a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization.
- Thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
- Uses high-pressure tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to think about it and do your research.
- Asks for donations in cash or asks you to wire money.
- Offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately.
- Guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. By law, you never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.
The FTC advises consumer to ask for detailed information about charities, including name, address, and telephone number, before donating.
“Get the exact name of the organization and do some research,” according to a website at FTC.gov. “Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word ‘complaint(s)’ or ‘scam’— is one way to learn about its reputation.”
Consumers should also call the charity and find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.
“Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials,” according to the FTC. “Check if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or GuideStar.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.