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Beware scams that prey on those in the holiday spirit this season.

Beware scams that prey on those in the holiday spirit this season.

It’s that time of the year again. The gloves and scarves are out, the decorations are up and everywhere you go, Christmas carols are playing in merry loop. Be it the seasonal sales or the winter-themed paper cups at your nearest Starbucks, there is no escaping the holiday spirit.

It is the season of giving and with our hearts a little warmer under the layers of winter wear and our hearing somewhat compromised by the joyous Christmas tunes, it is no surprise that even the most nonchalant of us  are more susceptible to the invites of various charity appeals through mailing lists and phone calls this season.

The people of Northwest in particular have a wonderful reputation of being empathetic towards the needy and unfortunately, scammers view their generosity as an exceptionally large pile of Christmas presents for themselves and attempt to swindle money in the name of charity to fill their own pockets.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, draws attention to this increased risk at this time of the year and cautions the public against such scammers masquerading as charities. The U.S. is home to more than a million non-profit organizations, many with inconveniently similar names. A lot of these ‘charitable’ organizations are notoriously famous for spending more money on overhead rather than on the philanthropic causes that  reeled in the donations.

The scammers use high pressure sales tactics and use this season of giving as a diving board for most sales pitch, lulling people into  the snug spirit of holiday generosity. Ferguson strongly advises to be wary of such tactics and to donate only after thorough research, not merely under the influence of a mistletoe-laced sales pitch.

Whimsical donations are ill-advised and people should promptly walk away from persistent sales pitch, be it a their door or on the phone or at the mall, unless they have sufficient information about the organization. It’s not rude – there is no need to feel like Scrooge. On the contrary, its prudent and you may be potentially walking away from the Grinch!

Over-dramatization aside, it is important to do your homework and for more information on where to find registered organizations and complain about charity fraud, read this article.

Happy Holidays!