Today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli warned Virginians to be on the alert for holiday season scam artists looking to take advantage of the giving spirit that many people have during this time of year.
"My office is committed to helping consumers protect themselves from falling victim to fraud," said the attorney general. "When it comes to charity scams, especially around the holidays, it is best that people to do lots of research and only give money to charities and businesses they can really trust."
The attorney general offered the following tips for avoiding charity scams and urged citizens to share them with neighbors in their local communities:
Do your homework: Ask the charity for information and do independent research. Check its website, validate if it is accredited by organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, or is licensed by authorities. For a list of state offices, visit the National Association of State Charity Officials (http://www.nasconet.org/).
Sidestep solicitations: If a charity contacts you out of the blue, be cautious. Also be wary of appeals that look like an invoice. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises it is illegal to mail an invoice unless it bears a disclaimer stating you are under no obligation.
Resist rushing: If a charity is legitimate, they'll accept your donation anytime.
Guard your generosity: Never give cash and if writing a check, make it out to the charity. Never use a money transfer company to send money to someone who you haven't met or share your banking or credit card information.
"My office will continue to update Virginians on fraud alerts and initiatives that help consumers across the commonwealth," said the attorney general. "It is our hope that all Virginians can enjoy a joyful and safe holiday season without being taken advantage of by scammers."
For more information on the attorney general's consumer protection efforts, please click here.