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Sadly, there have been a number of tragic events in the United States and around the world recently. From the shooting in Las Vegas to the numerous hurricanes that made land-fall in 2017, our hearts go out to those affected by these challenging times. To make matters worse, criminals use these tragedies to take advantage of those who want to help.

Don’t let fraudsters turn your act of kindness into their gain. To ensure your generosity is being put to good use, watch for signs of a charity scam, such as:
> the organization refuses to provide detailed information about their identity or can’t provide proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
> being thanked for a donation you don’t remember giving.
> the organization asks for cash donations or a wire transfer.
> you are guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for your contribution.
> the organization uses a name that closely resembles that of a well-known charity.

Remember to be on guard when it comes to charitable giving via email and social media as well. The FBI says to “build your digital defense.” Be skeptical of posts and emails requesting donations; do not click links or open attachments from an email solicitation. To help you feel better about the charities you support, do some online research before you give. Check the organizations rating from an independent site and make sure they are registered in your state.

As we approach the holiday season, keep in mind that reputable charities will not pressure or guilt you into giving.

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