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Give wisely this Veterans Day

This Saturday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, and many Americans will choose to donate to a veterans’ cause to acknowledge the day. There are many reputable organizations doing great work with current and former service members, but unfortunately, some people are looking to take advantage of donors’ generosity by posing as a phony charity, often with a seemingly legitimate name.

In one version of this scheme, victims receive a call from someone soliciting donations. The caller may claim to represent a veteran’s organization and request cash. They may settle for credit card information, or they may try to get you to buy a prepaid card or send a wire transfer. These methods of payment can be untraceable, and any funds sent go straight to scammers. The people behind the calls are good — they may be persistent in their calls or try to find just the right tactic to get you to open your wallet.

If you receive a call, email or find an advertisement soliciting donations, take your time to research. Verify contact information and that the charity is legitimate, keeping in mind bad guys will make their phony charities sound similar to real ones. Or, in other cases, they may just impersonate the real deal — so it is worth verifying with the real charity before donating. Don’t use the contact information the caller gave you, instead, research independently or called a source like Better Business Bureau.

Once you have verified a charity is real, learn what you can about it. How are contributions used? What kind of services do they provide?

Avoid pressure to give on the spot. A legitimate charity will welcome your gift just as much tomorrow as today, and won’t threaten you or pressure you to give now. Watch for stories that pull at your heartstrings — scammers know how to play up emotion to try to compromise judgment.

Before donating online, confirm that the website you are on is secure, beginning with an “https” address. Check privacy policies to understand how any personal information will be used.

Consider utilizing charity review organizations to get a third-party perspective. Give.org provides BBB’s Charity Reviews, including letting donors know whether a charity has complied with BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Emily Valla, emily.valla@thebbb.org, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call 208-342-4649.

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