JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You may have scored some deals on holiday shopping over the past few days. Now, you're ready to give to a worthy cause.
Jimmy Patronis, Florida's Chief Financial Officer, has a warning that scammers don't rest on Giving Tuesday.
"Give with your heart, you know, just don't just don't get your heart taken advantage of," Patronis said. "This time of year is so special, and there's people doing ok, and there's those that are hurting, and it's just human nature to want to give to those who are hurting. Just understand that there are scoundrels out there that will prety on that emotion. So, you know, this is why we're just saying, I want you to give, but I want you to also be smart in your giving."
Here are his tips to avoid becoming a victim of scams.
Patronis said ask questions before giving, like how the money will be distributed and who will get the money. He also said look out for similar charity names. Scammers, Patronis said, can create fake charities that sound like real ones to try to confuse people.
He also said use safe forms of payment, that you can track. Avoid using cash.
“Use forms of currency that you can track like a credit card, where if you make a transaction, at least you have the ability to go back to your credit card company and dispute it," Patronis said. "If there is some type of, of facts that come up later, that obviously shows that you were taken advantage of."
You can also verify charities on the Better Business Bureau's website. You can report scammers by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).
“Unfortunately, this time of year people are very generous, and they're very giving, but also it brings out the worst of some others and the scoundrels that come out to take advantage of people in a time of generosity is unfortunate, but it's a reality and all we want to do is help people be a little cautious that they don't get taken advantage of," Patronis said.
Patronis also recommends giving directly to charities by donating in person.