Pay attention when donating to charities

CHARLOTTE, NC - In this season of giving many of you will be deciding this week which charity you want to give to as the year ends. It is important to make sure you the spirit of the season doesn't make you vulnerable to a scam.

There are millions of charities in this country and many of them are asking for you help as the year ends. It takes a little bit of effort to separate the legitimate charities from criminals preying on your generosity. One of your best tools is the Internet.

Your first stop should be the charity's web site. Take some time to look at the charity's history. They should have financial disclosures available to you. Checking independent sites like the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator will help you as well.

You should make it a rule to avoid phone solicitations. Some scammers invent charity names that sound very much like a legitimate charity.

Advisors at Charity Navigator recommend you do not give to a charity that solicits you through email.

"The fundamental message is you gotta use your head a little bit, so you don't get your heart broken," according to Ken Berger.

Words to live by as you choose to help a charity in need.