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‘Tis the season of prudence

It’s good to give this time of year, and donating money or gifts to local charities is certainly encouraged. Showing people that somebody cares for them is the heartbeat of the Christmas season.

But, at the same time, it’s also good to know that the money you entrust to another’s hands is going to the right place. And unfortunately, there are those out there who would take advantage of your generosity.

“Sadly, times such as these also attract those who will scam and scheme to exploit that generosity. Our people should give. They should be compassionate. But they should always be cautious,”Alabama’s Attorney General Troy King said.

King suggests that contributors make sure they are dealing with charitable organizations they are familiar with and that have track records and histories that can easily be verified. Reputable and established organizations, like United Way and Salvation Army, are more likely to be better equipped to assist those in need in a faster, more effective manner.

Here are a few points to consider when giving out money this Christmas season:

Do not give cash. Contribute by check or money order made payable to the relief organization of your choice.

Be wary of telephone or Internet solicitations. Absolutely do not give solicitors any of your personal financial information such as your credit card numbers or checking account numbers, and only give through established, secure channels with which you are familiar or can verify.

Ask questions about how your contribution will be used and be concerned if there is any hesitation in the answer.

Say “no” to high-pressure appeals, especially those attempting to hurry you into making a contribution.

For more detailed guidelines and information, log on to www.give.org, to reach the Web site for the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.