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Consumers should use caution before year end donations

This time of year we're, inundated with calls to help charities, so how do you get the most bang for your buck?

Certified Public Accountant Shauna Wekherlien said the first thing consumers should do is check out a group's 501(c) status.

"In order to even get the classification of a 501(c), that process can take an organization almost two years so most scam artists won't go through the process of getting a 501(c) status," she said.

Consumers can check a group's tax-exempt status at irs.gov.

Consumers can get an idea of how much of your donation will help those in need compared to salaries and other costs by checking out a group's annual report. charitynavigator.org ranks groups by popularity, financial security and effectiveness.

Wekherlien also suggested consumers visit a charity to get an idea of how they're spending donations by stopping by the office or even volunteering for a day.

More information is available at irs.gov.

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