Fake charities during the holidays

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There are many wonderful charities to give donations to this holiday, but it's also a great opportunity for crooks to take your money.

If you're not careful, you could be giving your hard earned money to what may sound like a legitimate charity that's really just a fake charity.

It's a serious warning the Office of Consumer Affairs wants you to know about.

"Don't fall for a sound alike and if someone calls you cold or comes to your door or emails you and you don't know who they are, take the time to check them out," said Elaine Lidholm of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Here are some tips all donors should follow:

Know the charity: never give to a charity unless you know its history, purpose and reputation.

Request information: be suspicious of any solicitor who doesn't readily volunteer this information.

Verify with the Office of Consumer Affairs: Virginia law requires all charities register with them.

And do not give cash or give into pressure.

"One of the things we advise people to look out for is a very desperate hard luck tale and if someone always says, I'm just desperate, I just lost my car, was hit by a meteorite, whatever it may be, and you've got to help me now, I'd be a little suspicious," said Lidholm.

Lidholm says, crooks could be very convincing. A legitimate charity is not going to mind if you take the time to do your research because they know, the charity will check out.

It's easy this time of year to be generous and think of others less fortunate, but, all too often crooks find a way to scam people wanting to do good this holiday season.

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