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Scam Artists Take a Charitable Angle During the Holidays

November 30, 2011

BOISE, Idaho - Many people donate big chunks of money to their favorite causes at year's end because of the tax advantages. Scam artists know that - so they're out in full force in Idaho during the holiday season.

Anyone solicited by an unfamiliar charity, says Jo Rosen, director of estate and asset services for the American Cancer Society, should be sure to check it out before donating.

"It's always good to go to their website, look them up on Charity Navigator, and actually call."

Reputable charities are more than happy to give potential donors all the information they need to donate wisely, Rosen says. Also, organizations such as Charity Navigator, Guidestar and the Better Business Bureau post information - including what percentage of donation dollars goes to administrative costs and how much is spent on direct services.

Rosen says it's important to find out how charities use donors' money and what portion goes to the cause they care about.

"It's all public information. So any time a charity doesn't have that information public, I would be concerned."

Donations aren't always about writing a check, Rosen says. People can always volunteer at their favorite charity. Some older people who want to leave a legacy may be able to roll over Individual Retirement Account contributions, tax free, to charity.

Information on ways to give is online at cancer.org. Charity information is at charitynavigator.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID