Agency warns of questionable fundraisers

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WALLA WALLA -- The Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office is warning people that phone solicitors are making false claims about supporting the county's Search And Rescue operations.

A notice released Thursday advised people to use caution when being asked by phone to donate to search and rescue, cancer research and other worthy causes.

In some cases, solicitors indicated they support Walla Walla County Search And Rescue, but the Sheriff's Office said it can find no record of being contacted or supported by the group.

The follow warning signs and guidelines can help determine if a charity is reputable:

Legitimate charities should easily be reached by telephone or e-mail.

Ask for a local representative. Legitimate charities should have local representatives who can answer questions.

Charities should have local or regional offices that are open to the public and have complete transparency.

Questionable charities typically use post office boxes.

Be cautious of phone solicitations by charities whose names are similar to national organizations.

Ask that a request for a charitable contribution be mailed to you; if they refuse, hang up.

Don't give cash to door-to-door solicitors; most legitimate charities will provide information packets and allow mail-in contributions.

Remember that donations are always welcomed at local charities; a good way to ensure your donations are used for local activities is to contribute directly to those organizations.

If you have been contacted by one of the organizations mentioned above, you can contact the Crime Victims Advocate at Walla Walla Police, 424-4526, or the Sheriff's Office, 524-5400, and file a complaint.

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