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Watch For Scams During This Season Of Giving

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WLRN.org

The end of the year is a popular time for charitable giving thanks to the “holiday spirit” and possibly to get a tax deduction. But Florida’s consumer protection agency cautions that it’s also a time of year to be wary of scams.

Any charitable organization asking Floridians for money – with a few exceptions like religious, political and educational groups – must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. And thousands are registered.

“Last year, charities registered in Florida received north of $70 billion in contributions,” said Aaron Keller, department spokesman. “It’s a big deal, a lot of organizations out there asking for your contribution.”

Keller cautions that Floridians should not be pressured into giving.

“If you have an uneasy feeling about an organization that has reached out to you and is asking for money or pressuring you to give and you’re just not sure, reach out to our department,” Keller said.

He added that it’s important for consumers to educate themselves before they contribute. The state not only lists how a charity spends its funds, it also lists complaints against the non-profit.

Florida’s Check-A-Charity online service is available through FreshFromFlorida.com or you can call the toll free phone number (800)435-7352.