Be aware of scam-artists during holiday season

Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa reminds Nevadans the spirit of generosity shared at this time of year also spawns an increase in sweet-talking scam artists. Del Papa notes that many legitimate charities lose out on millions of dollars diverted to these scam artists and swindlers.

Del Papa offers the following tips to help determine if the charity you are solicited by is on the level:

-- Give directly to a known charity of your choice. It is often better to give to someone you know from past dealings.

-- Avoid sound-alike names. Many scams use names that are easily confused with well-respected charities.

-- Ask questions. Do not rely upon promises made on the phone. Ask to be provided with a written description of the program, and a copy of the annual report which shows what percent of the income goes specifically to the programs and services.

-- Do not be pressured. Legitimate charities will not pressure you into making an immediate donation.

-- Never give out credit card, bank account or Social Security number information to someone over the telephone you do not know. You may get scrammed time and time again once the thief has this information.

"Many legitimate charities use the phone to raise money," Del Papa said. "However, sometimes only a small percentage actually goes to the charity, with the vast majority of the funds going to a professional fund-raiser. The Nevada Attorney General's office is currently prosecuting a case in which the charity was to receive only 10 percent of the total amount donated."

While this practice is not illegal unless misrepresentations are made, consumers are advised to ask the caller how much of their donation actually goes to the charity.

Contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at (800) 992-0900 with questions regarding a specific charity.


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