Friday, September 02, 2005

Don’t get Scammed

I know there are some big hearts looking for a way to donate funds to help in the relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. Please remember that there are sharks in the Gulf waters and just as many on dry land.

I heard a reminder, something that would be well to remember, to donate to organizations that have a long track record of actually being responsible with the funds. Do not fall for door to door collections, telephone solicitations or e-mail solicitations from professional sharks intent on getting your money for their own personal use.

The legitimate organizations, The Red Cross being the largest that comes to mind and donations made through your local church are the best way to insure that donations actually are directed toward those in need.

In a related thought, each year around Christmas time when the shoppers downtown were eager and ready to spend I would make the same police report, and I mean every year. An older couple would walk into Foley’s, a large department store here in Houston, and walk around in the television department. They would be waited on by a salesman to purchase a large television that they had saved all year for, cash in hand because they didn’t believe in going into debt. The salesman would write up the sale, hand them a receipt and instruct them to head on down to the “Customer Pick Up Window” where they could have the television loaded into their vehicle.

A couple of hours of waiting for their name to be called; holding the receipt in hand they would walk up and request a manager to check on the progress and ask why it had taken so long. The manager would look up the deal, questions asked over the phone with the television department and finally it would be found out that no such transaction had ever taken place; at least not rung up on any of the registers. Every year a slick scam artist would show up looking like any other salesman; his ability to pick just the right target and his intestinal fortitude to pull it off as he pretended to be a member of the staff was all he needed to swindle hundreds of dollars in cash from the unsuspecting and disappear in a heart beat.

Make your donations out in the form of a check or use your credit card as you donate for these worthwhile charities. Cash is great to have around; just use a little common sense when handing anything over to someone you never met before.

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