Posted: Nov 17, 2010 6:49 PM by Nancy Chen
Updated: Nov 17, 2010 6:50 PM
'Tis the season of giving, but the question is to whom?
Holiday decorations are popping up around town, and scams are as well.
A local charity is on alert after someone posed as a Toys for Tots employee and tried to scam a local business out of money.
An Atascadero business got a call from someone trying to get a cash donation.
The charity doesn't make phone solicitations.
The Central Coast Toys for Tots donates toys to kids whose parents can't afford Christmas presents.
Charity scams are at their highest during the holiday season.
"It's a time that's very emotional, especially for people who may be alone, and so, it's a time that's ripe for these charity scams to come forward," said Barry VanderKelen, the executive director of the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation.
It's not even Thanksgiving, and the grinch has already made his first appearance in Atascadero.
"Really anytime someone steals from a non-profit, they steal from people who really cannot afford it," said Barbara Walcott, the executive director of the Central Coast Toys 4 Tots.
VanderKelen says one way to really make sure your money is going where you want it to is by checking it on guidestar.org.
It's an independent website that verifies and gives links to legitimate non-profits.
Other tips he has:
Never give out your credit card information or any money over the phone.
Don't give money out on the spot unless you can really trust and verify the organization.
Instead, ask for a pledge card.
Go to a charity's website and research it.
Beware of typos or similar spellings that can lead you to the wrong website.
But don't forget to keep your chin up.
"We can't really let that dissuade us from the goodness of people," Wolcott said. "We still feel that the generosity of this area is overwhelming."
Atascadero police are interested in whether or not this has happened to other people as well and ask that you give them a call if you have any information.
Toys for Tots says its donation boxes will always be clearly marked.
You can find Guide Star's website by going to the 'Newslinks' section of the website.
It's the most wonderful time of the year--for gift givers, receivers and scammers, too.
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