How to Spot Fraud This Holiday Season STOP DONATING TO SCAMMERS
During the season of giving, charities receive a much-needed rush of donations as people open their hearts to others. Unfortunately, criminals are all too willing to abuse this goodwill. According to a report from the Justice Department, Americans over the age of 60 lose over $3 billion a year to scams and fraudsters. As charity scams reach their peak, here’s what you need to do to ensure your donations aren’t lining the pockets of criminals. NEVER GIVE BY PHONE OR EMAIL. Charities regularly reach out to past and potential donors through traditional mail, email, phone calls, or text messages. This means fraudsters will mimic their approach with less noble intentions. Because it’s impossible to determine who is on the other end of a call or email, you should never hand over your credit card information to strangers. If you really are speaking to a representative from a legitimate charity, they will direct you to a secure avenue where you can give without worry. FEELING PRESSURED? WALK AWAY. A lot of charities set goals they want to reach before the new year, but even groups that are hoping to raise a certain amount of money
know better than to pressure donors into giving. Donations should always come from the heart, and it’s a bad sign if someone insists there’s a deadline for giving. As the Better Business Bureau says, “Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.” ONLY GIVE TO REPUTABLE CHARITIES. Do some research before donating to charities. Look up any prospective charity on Charity Navigator at CharityNavigator.org. This service flags “high concern” organizations suspected of fraud and ranks how reliable established charities are. Even legitimate organizations can be misleading about how they spend their donations. A good rule of thumb is to avoid organizations that spend more than 25 percent of donations on salaries or administrative costs. There are many amazing charities and organizations that do good work. Stay vigilant to make sure you are bringing joy to the world and not falling for a criminal looking to make a quick buck.
ANTIQUING IN THE AGE OF EBAY How to Score the Best Deals
Antique stores are not as common as they used to be. Thanks to online shopping and websites like eBay, it has gotten slightly harder to find quality antique items and good deals. All too often, it seems like sellers rely on eBay and similar websites as a point of reference to price their items, even if eBay isn’t the best avenue to gauge the market. For those of us who love antiques, this can be discouraging, but don’t fret! In the era of mass-produced, low-quality home goods, antiquing is very much alive, and it is still possible to find the unique items you’re searching for. The styles of yesteryear can still be found tucked away in dusty little shops — if you’re willing to put in the work to find them! Here are a few tips for finding those treasures in the age of eBay. INSPECT THE ITEM Good, old-fashioned antiquing comes with one major perk you won’t get on eBay: You get to inspect the item personally before making a purchase. You can investigate the condition of the piece and ask questions about its authenticity. If you notice certain flaws in the item, you can bring that up when it comes time to haggle.
HAGGLE! Don’t forget to bargain with the seller! Being able to negotiate the price of an item is another huge benefit of visiting an antique store in person. While some sellers can ask for a “best offer” on their online listings, many don’t, giving buyers next to no flexibility. A lot of people may be too intimidated to haggle, but when you take the time to do it, you will almost always save a little money. DO YOUR RESEARCH As a buyer, you want to have reference points regarding authenticity, condition, and price. If you find an item you’re interested in, take some time to research it further. It’s great to have your smartphone on you so that you can do some digging before extending an offer or making the purchase. The more informed you are, the greater the chance you’ll get a good deal. HAVE FUN Antiquing is about discovering hidden gems and having fun along the way. When you’re traveling or exploring an area you’ve never been to, visiting antique shops can be a wonderful experience chock-full of history and one-of-a-kind items you wouldn’t otherwise come across. When you go in with an open mind, that’s when you find the greatest treasures!
2 • www.garryliday.com
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