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      Give wisely this holiday season

      This year, financial specialists are warning you to be careful of scam artists who might try to pocket your money!

      The season of giving has become a treasured American tradition. This year, financial specialists are warning you to be careful of scam artists who might try to pocket your money!

      According to the Federal Trade Commission, you should investigate the charities to which you donate.

      Monica Kertz, a local family and consumer science teacher, told KTVO people should be smart consumers and do research.

      "This is the time of year where people seem to be more about giving around the holidays. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Kertz.

      It's always important to find out the organization's mission statement and history.

      The Federal Trade Commission also recommends you to pick a charity you can relate to and commit to that charity. They say you should ignore additional requests if you've already given money.

      You should also budget your giving. Budgeting will help you determine how much you can afford to give.

      "I recommend 10-20 percent," Kertz said. "We talk about a term called pay yourself first, that you directly put that money in savings first. If giving is important to them, a certain percent or dollar amount should be set aside every month for the charity of their choice."

      If you cannot afford to donate money, you can donate your time, talents or other non-monetary items. Doing that will not only help your finances, but it protects you from scammers. You should always donate safely and never give your bank account or credit card information over the phone or through email.

      When giving to charities this holiday season, you should put a giving strategy in place to stop scammers from putting your money in their pockets.