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Older Americans, especially those over age 65, should be cautious in responding to charitable solicitations in the aftermath of last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Katie Smith Sloan of the AARP joined the Early Show to talk about how older Americans can avoid charity scams.

What scams have you heard of since the attack?

The National Fraud Information Center has told us of a few. One such scam group has asked people to send a dollar to help victims. Another has asked people to send money via wire (Western Union) to help computer technicians track the terrorists using computers.

What advice do you have to avoid these scams?

The advice I would give is to be cautious and be skeptical. Now is the time that fraud charities are running rampant. Each week they change their pitch as the news changes: This week give to police funds; next week the same group could call for money for firefighters. It could be the same people making all the calls each week. Also, ask lots of questions. Don't let your emotions make your decisions.

Don't use your credit card. Ask them to send you material in the mail. If they are not a legitimate organization, they will not have material to mail to you. Be ware of door-to-door solicitation and ask them for ID. Also, know that most of the money collected in buckets on counters in stores asking for spare change never gets to the charity they are advertising. The bottom line is that these charity scams divert money from legitimate charities and now is the time that they need the money most.

Why seniors?

Seniors are targeted for fraud because there is a perception that they are trusting and not going to ask questions. They tend to be home more and answer the phone and want to stay on the phone to hear the person out and make their decision on emotional feelings and not fact.

You can protect your money by knowing who you are giving to and by coming up with a plan and sticking to it. Don't get persuaded by a new charity that comes on and says they need your money.

It's hard to know how much of your money is going to helping--not just to raising money or administration. That information is hard to come by even from some of the more reputable charities. Some do publish annual reports on this. You have to dig for this information.

The AARP offers the following tips on careful charitable giving:

The Council of Better Business Bureaus has also issued standards for charitable organizations.

Here are a few of them:

For more information on how to protect seniors from scams, visit www.aarp.org.©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, 텍사스 홀덤 전략 broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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