JONESVILLE — The holidays are a time of generosity and giving for many people. Sadly, some Jonesville residents were taken advantage of for their charity this year through “donation” collection calls.
Unrecognized numbers have been dialing residents in town and asking for donations. The thieves tell the individuals the money will be given to the local police department.
When asked which local department they are collecting for, the caller usually responds with “your local department.” Further questioning reveals the callers have no idea who or where they are calling.
“One of the numbers that we looked back up, we tried to trace it back and it came to a telemarketer out of Sevierville, Tenn., and I tried to return the call but you couldn’t get through,” Jonesville Police Chief Roger Reece said.
Those who answer their telephone and hear no one on the other end should be just as cautious as if they received a donation request.
“I would be cautious of anybody taking any money over the phone, for any organization,” Reece said.
The machines used to randomly dial numbers often call just to see if someone answers. The machine then makes a note of which number was called and the time of day someone answered.
Additional calls will be made later at the same time of day to ask for donations.
“We here at Jonesville Police Department never solicit any money. I would recommend if anybody receives a call for any solicitation of money, any police association, that they be cautious on where they send their money. It could be telemarketing and we have no idea where the money is going,” Reece said.
Reece said the police department does not accept donations to prevent any appearance of impropriety.
Reece said the donation attempts were appreciated but should be directed to other causes, like Tri-County Christian Ministries or some other organization.
Christmas and Thanksgiving are not the only times residents should be on alert, nor is this a Jonesville-only issue.
After nearly every major tragedy — Sept. 11, Sandy Hook, Hurricane Katrina, etc. — calls begin circulating asking for donations. Those looking to help are conned into giving away their money with no thought that the caller might be a fraud.
“Citizens need to be aware of the scams. And if they want to donate money, please investigate who they’re donating money to,” Reece said. “Check them out. Or let us check them out for them.”
Recipients of these type of calls may contact the police, the Better Business Bureau, or ask to be put on a do-not-call list.
Attorney General Roy Cooper has a link to charity scam information at www.ncdoj.gov.
The elderly are the most at-risk demographic. Younger call recipients tend to use the internet to search an unknown caller’s number, while older individuals may not think to do the search or question its authenticity.
“This time of year we always have this,” Reece said. “People need to be aware of that in the community.”
Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.