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Stay safe and avoid scams this holliday season

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The holidays are the busiest time of the year, and for many of us, they can be overwhelming. We all have good intentions. We want to share time as well as gifts with our loved one, and we want to be charitable to those in need. At the same time, we need to keep working at our jobs, and there is often a greater work demand now than any other time of year. Since it seems that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, people are in a hurry and can become scatterbrained in their efforts to complete all that they need to do before the new year. Sadly, criminals are aware of this, and consequently, December might also be their busiest time of the year. Here are some tips to stay safe this holiday season:

Beware of Charity Scams. If someone approaches you and asks for money for a charity, take the time to research the proposed charity. A person who is truly representing a charitable organization will not be surprised if you take a minute or two to check out the organization on the internet. You can do a quick internet search to make sure that the organization is what it appears to be on the following sites:
Minnesota Attorney General’s charity search-
http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Charities/CharitySearch.asp
GuideStar-
http://www.guidestar.org/
Charities Review Council-
http://www.smartgivers.org/Donors

If, however, you feel that you would like more time to do research, get the information from the charity representative as to how you can donate in the future should you choose to do so. One easy way to do this is to do your holiday shopping online and utilize the “Shop for your cause” site to donate a percentage of proceeds to your chosen charity. For more information about this, see the following link:
http://www.examiner.com/article/shop-for-a-cause-this-season

Keep in mind that bonified charitable organizations will give a badge to solicitors identifying the organization. Thus, even if the organization is legitimate, you also need to make sure that the person on your doorstep truly represents that organization. In Minneapolis, there was a recent criminal who was purporting to be from Habitat for Humanity, but in reality was just a con-artist. For more information about this story, see the following link:
http://www.examiner.com/article/solve-a-homicide-avoid-a-scam-make-a-statement-police-want-your-help

For more crime prevention tips from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, please see the following link:
http://hennepinattorney.org/CrimePrevention.aspx

Another common crime during the holiday season is theft from vehicles. Most of us are spending some time at the gym trying to ward off holiday weight gain, and thieves know that this is a prime place to steal from unsuspecting victims. The Minneapolis Police Department has issued a holiday warning asking people to remove valuables from their vehicles. So before you go into aerobics to sweat off the Christmas calories, make sure that your vehicle is locked and that you have not left anything in plain sight in the car. The police department advises that even items that have been stowed under seats or covered in the backseat have been stolen from cars in gym parking lots, and what many of us perceive to be spare change has been enough incentive for a thief to smash a window with a rock.

Lastly, the current bitter cold snap is reminding us all of the dangers that can come in Minnesota weather. Now is a good time to make sure that you are stocked up on emergency supplies. The good news is, if you’re struggling to find a last minute gift for someone, when you pick up your own emergency supplies you can grab a kit for them as well. Stores like REI have pre-made winter survival kits, or you can make your own based upon individual needs. For more information about what to include in a survival kit, see the following links-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6L4lA4qAVg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xuks7b7hcI

http://bit.ly/19sVTyy
http://abt.cm/1bpeBqF
http://bit.ly/1dYUurk
http://amzn.to/1dYUx6g

Another interesting winter survival tool comes from a man who studied how the homeless survive. Here is a video instructing how to make a penny stove.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPa2vpJXxso

If you found this article to be of interest, please click on “+Subscribe” underneath the title of the article to receive free automatic email updates when this author writes again.

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