Southern Pines Police Warn of Scam
When Southern Pines resident Cleon Hayes got a call from Southern Pines Fire Chief Hampton Williams soliciting money for the department she was eager to help.
The caller on the other end of the phone was not Chief Williams, nor was he a member of the Southern Pines police or fire department.
“If he hadn’t said he was the chief and used his name I would have questioned him more,” Hayes said. “I felt Iike I knew who I was talking to, but I didn’t know.”
According to Southern Pines police, an organization known as the “Police Protective Fund” is currently soliciting donations in Moore County using a post office box address in Charlotte. This solicitation is occurring by both direct mailing and by telephone.
The police are urging residents to exercise caution when making charitable contributions.
Upon receiving a monthly credit card statement, Hayes observed that the Police Protective Fund was listed as the recipient of the donation. She called her credit card company and notified the police.
Hayes said that when she called her credit card company she had the money refunded.
The Southern Pines Fire/Rescue Department and the Southern Pines Police Department do not receive any monies from the Police Protective fund, according to a press release.
The Southern Pines Police Department has asked the Attorney General’s Office in North Carolina to review the practices and legitimacy of “Police Protective Fund” so it could provide further guidance to those who are considering making a charitable contribution, according to the release.
The department offered several tips regarding charities:
Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity will give out information about the charity’s mission, how donations will be used and proof that contributions are tax deductible. Research the organization via the internet or other sources to determine if there have been complaints or concerns with the practice. Look at the percentage of donations they provide organizations versus the percentage they retain for “administrative costs.’
Check with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Organizations that either solicit contributions from North Carolina residents or are located in North Carolina are required to be registered with the Office of the Secretary of State. Remember that most charitable organizations who solicit door-to-door in Southern Pines must also be registered in accordance with the town’s Code of Ordinances.
Check with local recipients. If giving to local organizations is important to you, make sure they will benefit from your generosity. If a charity tells you that your dollars will support a local organization, such as a fire department, police department or emergency medical service, call the organization to verify the claim.
Watch out for similar sounding names. Some phony charities use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations.
Know the difference between “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return. Even if an organization is tax exempt, your contribution may not be tax deductible. If a tax deduction is important to you, ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution and stating that it is tax deductible.
Refuse high pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won’t push you to give on the spot.
Be wary of charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your donation immediately.
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