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With the holiday season upon us it isn’t just retailers looking to turn a profit. Scammers exploit the spirit of the holidays to help separate victims from their money. Many of these scams are used throughout the year but are given a new twist for the holidays.

  1. Bait-and-Switch – Scammers frequently use cheap tablets, smart phones, MP3 players, jewelry and gift cards as part of bait-and-switch scams. They may approach potential victims in a mall, on the street or through the Internet offering a deal that is too good to be true. They may even allow the victim to check out the item, but rest assured, after the money is exchanged the victim will not get the item they are expecting. Only purchase big-ticket items from respected retailers and avoid this common holiday scam.
  1. Hard Luck Stories – Scammers often take advantage of the holiday spirit of giving. They may send victims an email requesting assistance or approach victims in public. Scammers will often have an elaborate hard luck story and sometimes even use children to elicit sympathy from victims. Some scammers may also pose as stranded holiday travelers in need of assistance to get home for the holidays. Be wary of these scams and never give out your address, bank information or large amounts of cash to strangers.
  1. Charity Scams – Fake charity scams also take advantage of the spirit of giving. Beware of scam charity emails. Research a charity before making a donation and make sure they are legitimate. You should never make large donations in cash and always ask for a receipt when making a large donation.
  1. Gift Card Swap – The rise in popularity of gift cards has led to a new type of scam. Scammers will use high tech scanners to read the numbers off of the gift cards sold in the aisles of major retailers. They will then return the cards to the store shelf and monitor them to see when they are activated. Once activated, they will use the card numbers to spend the funds before the intended recipient has a chance to use the card. Whenever possible purchase your card from behind the counter of a retailer.
  1. Email Greetings – Holiday emails can sometimes be a Trojan horse for hackers. Do not open attachments from senders you do not know and be wary of strangely worded emails. Make sure your computer’s antivirus software is up to date and use it to scan anything suspicious

Also read that the

BBB’s Top 5 Holiday Scams To Avoid 
Scammers Capitalize On Distraction Of Busy Shoppers 

Holidays can be hectic, and scammers are counting on harried consumers letting down their guard, whether shopping on line, juggling packages at the mall or simply reading their e-mail.

The BBB has identified five common scams that consumers should watch out for and avoid as they shop, whether online or in stores.

“While the rest of us are pulling the decorations out of the attic, scammers are blowing the dust off of their tried and true holiday scams,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “We can all help make these holiday scams a ghost of Christmas’ past by not falling for them anymore.”

Online shopping scams: We’re all looking for a great deal online, but some sites offer electronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true. Every holiday season, the BBB hears from holiday shoppers who paid for a “great deal” online, but received nothing in return.

BBB advice: Always look for the BBB logo when shopping online and click on it to confirm that it is legitimate. If you’re shopping on sites that aren’t household names, check them out with the BBB before you buy at bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300. Confirm that the company has a legitimate address.

Nabbing the season’s hottest toys and gadgets online: When stores sell out, you may find the items online at sites like Craigslist or eBay— but for a much steeper price. The problem is that some sellers will take your money and run.

BBB Advice: Shop locally on Craigslist and conduct transactions in person. Bring along a friend if you’re uncomfortable meeting the seller alone. Never wire money as payment. If you’re shopping on auctions like eBay, research sellers extensively and listen to your doubts if the deal sounds fishy or too good to be true.

Identity theft at the mall: While you’re struggling at the mall with bags of presents, identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or your debit or credit card numbers,

BBB Advice: Don’t let yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from the ATM. Make sure you put your card back in your wallet after each purchase.

Bogus charitable pleas: The holidays are a time of giving, and that creates an opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to line their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities that don’t necessarily deliver on their promises or are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans. Resist demands for on-the-spot donations.

BBB Advice: Always research charities with the BBB before you give to see if the charity meets the BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Up-to-date reports on local and national charities are available at www.bbb.org/charity.

Phishing e-mails: Phishing e-mails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer. Around the holidays, beware of e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies like UPS or Fedex with links to package tracking information.

BBB Advice: Don’t click on any links or open any attachments to e-mails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. E-mail addresses that don’t match up, typos and grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing e-mail. Also beware of unsolicited e-mails from companies with which you have no association. Make sure you have current antivirus software and that all security patches have been installed on the computer.
For more advice on being a savvy consumer this holiday season, visit the BBB online atwww.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/
UPDATED: 12-14-2012
Here are some charity organizations that you must not support unless they prove that they are legit and they also need to publish or provide to the public where the money/funds or collections are going and how much money the director/founder are getting for doing this service.
Most of those charity founders they created them because they want to give back to the society not to pocket back their bank accounts. See list of non register charities and we will update our information here if they provide us with valid information:
1. The Kierrah Foundation – Suspended
2. Hope 4 Children Foundation – No record
3. The Pain Foundation – No record
Caution with the following register charities:
1. The Life Group LA
2. NOH8 Campaign
3. Exotifit For Humanity aka We Care For The World
4. We Care For The World
Remember that who ever founded the charity organizations is not their company. Most of non profit asking people for money or goods are public entities and they are own by the public, so those people running them are not the owners and they should never think they own them!
See proof of two charity organizations that are not legit in California.
(Click on photos to view regular size)
Additional information about Charities:


The California Attorney General has primary responsibility for regulating, enforcing and supervising organizations and individuals that administer and/or solicit charitable funds or assets in California. The Attorney General has the duty to protect donors to charity, charities themselves and the beneficiaries of charities. In addition, the Attorney General has broad authority under State statutes to regulate charitable organizations and trusts and to commence law enforcement investigations and legal actions to protect the public interest.

A nonprofit organization, in a sense, is “owned” by the public. No private person can claim ownership or control of the organization. The assets of a nonprofit organization are irrevocably dedicated to charitable, educational, literary, scientific, or religious purposes. That means the nonprofit’s cash, equipment, and other property cannot be given to anyone or used for anyone’s private benefit without fair market compensation to the organization. Moreover, a nonprofit’s property is permanently to be used for exempt purposes. When and if the organization decides to dissolve, any assets remaining after the debts and liabilities are paid must go to another nonprofit organization—not to members of the former organization or other private individuals.

Some Basic Steps For Incorporation Of A Public Benefit Corporation:
Choose a corporate name, Draft and file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State, File federal application for employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS, File a statement by domestic nonprofit corporation, Register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trust & File application for exemption from federal income taxes with the IRS and state income taxes with the California Franchise Tax Board.

What Is 501(c)(3) Status?
A section 501(c)(3) organization must be “organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational purposes.” To qualify, an organization must satisfy an organizational test and an operational test. The organizational test is met if the articles of incorporation include language limiting the purposes of the organization to one or more of the exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) and do not empower the organization to engage in any substantial activities which do not further one or more exempt purposes. In addition,the organizational documents (or applicable state law) must require the organization to expressly dedicate its assets to exempt purposes in the event of a dissolution.

Fundraising campaign in California?
Prior to soliciting any charitable donations, a commercial fundraiser must register with the Registry of Charitable Trusts on a form provided by the Attorney General, pay a fee of $350, and obtain a $25,000 bond. The commercial fundraiser must renew that registration and bond annually and pay a fee of $350. A commercial fundraiser must also file an annual financial report with the Attorney General accounting for funds collected during the preceding year.Registration or licensing may also be required in various California cities and counties. There are more than 200 cities and counties that require charity fundraisers to comply with local licensing and disclosure requirements.

(Los Angeles County Code, Volume 3, Title 7, Chapter 7-24 requires that this Notice of Intention to be filed at least 30 days prior to beginning your solicitation or advertisement for your fund-raising activity. No advertisement or solicitation may begin until this office has issued an Information Card.

Solicitations Information Card:
An Information Card is issued by the Los Angeles Police Commission Charitable Services Section, Commission Investigation Division upon review of the Notice of Intention[PDF] to solicit charitable contributions by a requesting charitable organization. The Information Card provides important information to the donor so they may make an educated decision whether to support that organization.

For more information visit:
IRS (Federal tax exemption and reporting compliance)

California Franchise Tax Board (California tax exemption)

California Secretary of State (Filing articles of incorporation, Annual Statement of Officers)

California Employment Development Department (California payroll taxes)

California Attorney General’s Charitable Trusts website:

Philanthropic Research, Inc. (Guidestar) – http://www.guidestar.org

Federal Trade Commission

Sources: BBB, LegalShield, CA Attorney General, Diversity News Magazine, www.nprcenter.org, http://www.lapdonline.org.
Photo credit to: LegalShield.
Editor’s Note: If you know if any other organization to be added to this list, please email us the name, tax id# address and we will up to the list. We will also update any charity that changed from not legit to legit. Thanks

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