7 On Your Side: Tips on avoiding border family separation charity scams

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Nina Pineda has tips to help you avoid charity scams.

Many people have been moved by the images and sounds of children being separated from their parents at the US border and want to donate to help. But before you open you wallet, you should be aware of scams impersonating genuine charities.

Fake charities will try to take advantage of your generosity and compassion for others in need. But not only do these scams cost you money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.

There are plenty of well-known charities accepting donations for border children and their families. We are seeing a lot of new entities popping up on social media feeds. People are donating to organizations offering legal help, temporary housing, food and clothing. Some are set up just for the kids, and other offer option to split your donation among a dozen groups dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees.

The first sign of a scam is being contacted by phone or e-mail requesting a donation.

Most real charities do not solicit, and they never pressure you to give. If you get a hard sell, hang up or delete.

Another warning sign is a charity you've never heard of before.

Do research with the state to see if the group is registered and how it's rated.

Scammers may also set up fake websites, which look almost identical to those operated by real charities.

Don't click on emailed links to donate. Go directly to a secure website, or call and verify if you're unsure.

Also, don't donate to charities that tell you they only accept cash, and always make sure you can be provided with a receipt for your donation.

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