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Beware of Last-Minute Giving Scams

December 21, 2011

LAS VEGAS - It's down to the final week to come up with the perfect gifts for those on your holiday list - and Nevada consumer advocates warn it is also prime time for scams masquerading as charities.

Giving to a charitable cause is a great gift idea during the holidays, according to Deborah Jaquith, communications director for AARP Nevada. However, she suggests thoroughly checking out the charity to make sure it is legitimate before handing over any hard-earned dollars.

"We're encouraging people to be careful during this holiday season when it comes to charitable giving. One of our top tips is 'Don't give over the phone, period.' It's just not safe."

Jaquith suggests asking the organization about the percentage of donation money that is used for administrative costs, so you know how much of your donation is actually being spent on the purpose you intend. The Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada says this year was notable for scammers creating fake charities for veterans and breast-cancer research.

Jaquith says it's important for Nevadans to remember they don't always have to keep digging into their wallets or pocketbooks to make a valuable charitable contribution.

"We want to encourage people to consider giving the gift of time to your local charity. Many nonprofits operate on a shoestring and need volunteer help to get the job done. At the local shelter, you could walk a dog or foster a cat - or your local school might need mentors."

Jaquith says a 2011 AARP survey of Nevadans age 50 and older found that 76 percent are concerned about consumer fraud issues while only about 25 percent believe they have the information they need to protect themselves from scams.

AARP's volunteerism site is createthegood.org. More information on frauds is online at aarp.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV