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TheStreet Open House

‘Tis The Season To Be On The Lookout For Scam Artists

Stock quotes in this article: WU

The giving spirit sweeps many during the holiday season. With charity scams, fraudsters lure victims in with a number of ploys.

“The holidays bring out the best in people but scammers prey on this, so it’s best to do research,” said Shelley Bernhardt, director of consumer protection at Western Union. “A red flag is if you’re pressured to donate immediately. Reputable charities will accept your contributions anytime. If pressured, report it to the Better Business Bureau or authorities.”

Here are some tips:

  • Do your homework. Ask the charity for information and do independent research: Check its website; validate if it’s accredited by organizations like the 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.

If you sent a Western Union Money Transfer ® and believe you may be a victim of fraud, call 1 (800) 448-1492. For more information, visit http://www.westernunion.com/stopfraud or, to test your knowledge of scams, take our Fraud Quiz: www.westernunion.com/fraudquiz.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of September 30, 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 510,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and 425 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.

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