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Beware of Holiday Scams ~ Lee’s Summit Tribune Annual Holiday Reminder

Beware of Holiday Scams ~ Lee’s Summit Tribune Annual Holiday Reminder

Nov. 30, 2012


‘Tis the season to be jolly, as the old saying goes.

While, on one hand there is the excitement and joy of the season, it is often offset by the increased need among the impoverished and underemployed creating an environment ripe for the Holiday Scam.

It’s a tough year for many, unemployment is still high, and the cumulative effects of the economy have taken an even bigger toll.

There exists an even greater need for sharing what we have and ensuring that the benefit of our donations does the most good possible.

Do your research, know the facts.

Does that organization that ‘sounds’ so good actually use 40% or more of your contribution to support themselves? Or does your gift flow through directly to those in need?

Gift cards, the increasingly popular gift, are now an increasingly popular donation. While intended to provide a meal to help a family, in the wrong hands they slip into a pocket rather than a food basket.

To ensure your kindness goes to the greatest benefit, make sure that you are supporting a State recognized organization.

Any group giving you a receipt “for your taxes” should be able to provide you with a copy of their approved IRS 501c3 Charitable Deduction document.

If they are not approved and you report the donation to IRS, this could cause you to be audited.

Be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable donations.

They may attempt to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays.

Ask for identification, how donated funds are used, if contributions are tax deductible, etc. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, don’t give.

Use the resources below to investigate for yourself.

• First, make sure the charity is a registered 501c3 with the IRS by searching their website: http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/

• Next check with the State of Missouri to see if the charity is registered where they are collecting donations. https://www.sos.mo.gov/BusinessEntity/soskb/csearch.asp

• You can also check with the Attorney General’s office for a list of organizations that have voluntarily registered and turned over financial information. http://ago.mo.gov/checkacharity/

• Other sources include Guidestar or Charity Navigator which will tell you how the organization is using your donation. Look at the salaries of the people in charge and make sure they’re proportional to the size of the organization.  www.guidestar.org  or  www.charitynavigator.org

Remember, beware of scams. Have a safe, happy, giving holiday season.


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