Avoid scams by giving locally

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Grant County Sheriff Chuck Dills gets calls from the public on a weekly basis asking him if someone is collecting for the police fund or if a prize letter they received in the mail is real.

His advice has been if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. He also recommends the public ask questions and check with local organizations or businesses before they send donations in the mail or give to a solicitor that knocks at your door.

Warnings like these are helpful. Unfortunately, the police department cannot catch every questionable charity or shady business deal before someone in the community loses money.

The best defense against fraud is to make sure you know the organization and the people involved in it. If you don’t, and you still want to give a donation, you should insist on some time to research the organization. Be suspicious of any person representing a so-called charity or a business who tries to pressure a patron to turn over money quickly.

The Federal Trade Commission says you should avoid charities and fundraisers that refuse to provide detailed information about the group, including verification that a donation can be tax-deductible. Watch out also for groups that have names similar to well-known charities and those that call to thank you for a donation you don’t recall making. Avoid groups that ask you to wire money or offers to send an overnight delivery service to collect a donation.

There are plenty of reasons to decline donations to groups that contact you through seemingly endless telephone calls, letters and emails.

But there are also plenty of well-known charities in Grant County. There is HOPE, Helping Hands and the Community Action Commission, which provides food and clothing to families in need. There’s also the Soup Kitchen in Dry Ridge and the Grant County Relay For Life, the Williamstown Kiwanis, Grant County Salvation Army and Grant County Red Cross. This list could go on for pages. And that’s the point. You already know good charities and nonprofits, and in many cases, you know the people who work and volunteer for these groups.

If you want to avoid scams, keep your donations  - local, local, local and look to these groups before parting with your hard-earned money.