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Better to give? 7 things to know about donating to charity as a holiday gift

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 11:17 AM

Nearly 7 In 10 Americans In New Survey Say They’d Give Up Giving Gifts This Holiday Season

If "Family Feud" featured "the top reasons you donate to charity instead of a Christmas present," these answers might pop up on the board: Ran out of time. Angry at recipient. Too much materialism. Really love the charity.

But would a family member or other loved one really appreciate these (mostly) noble efforts? Possibly if you’ve selected the right gift recipient among other things.

A donation to charity could become a bona fide Christmas present, according to Consumer Reports. "Giving to charity in lieu of, or in addition to, a traditional holiday gift has a lot going for it," the consumer watchdog noted. "It restores the idea that the holidays are about caring for and helping others. And it's a simple and elegant alternative to finding a gift for that person who has everything."

RELATED: The best and worst charities for your donations

Scott Galupo, a writer for The American Conservative, considers the gesture problematic at best.

"I'm not sure these are 'gifts,' properly understood," he wrote. "A gift by its nature is supposed to be selfless." A donation to charity, according to Galupo, "violates this principal virtue of gift-giving. It reflects attention back to the giver. A certain sense of self-righteousness underlies the whole enterprise. 'We all have so much already,' the giver says. 'I want to help the less fortunate.'"

But Galupo agrees with CR and other experts that there are times a charitable gift at the holiday is a good thing, just not for everyone or even most people.

These experts, including nonprofits that benefit from charitable gifts at the holidays, shared seven tips for donating a charitable gift at Christmas:

Make sure the recipient wants a donation. This means no passive donations made because a relative never reciprocates or you've learned they always return your other gifts on Boxing Day. "Not everyone will be happy with a charitable donation made on their behalf, especially if they're expecting a traditional gift," CR noted. "Consider asking in advance, even if it spoils the surprise."

According to experts at The Life You Can Save nonprofit, good indicators that a person might be open to a charitable donation in their name include prior complaints about owning too much stuff and being open to new ideas and charitable giving in general. In other words, if Uncle Mort prides himself on never donating a dime and has worn the same suit for 20 years, he's not a good candidate.

Combine a charity gift with another gift if needed. Sometimes Christmas is one of the very few times a recipient gets a nice or traditional gift. So if you've always given your Aunt Marge a new nightie at Christmas, you might need to continue that tradition or add a personal touch to the charity gift. Add a smaller but related present, like a sleep mask, for example.

Choose the appropriate organization. Start by noting which organizations your recipient already contributes to throughout the year, advised Galupo. "Maybe, instead of those mosquito nets, the intended recipient would appreciate a donation to her local parish; instead of that animal shelter, a battered women's shelter. Agreement, in other words, should not be assumed."

Make sure a donation doesn't involve an automatic rollover. The Life You Can Save blog noted that automatic rollovers are tough to keep up with, and you may inadvertently be giving the same gift for years if you're not careful.

Avoid charity gift cards. It's convenient to pay for a gift card that allows the recipient or loved ones to select from a list of charities they'd like to receive the money. CR criticizes this option in most cases. "We've seen handling fees of as much as $5, which would go to a charity if you donated directly," the media outlet noted. "There also can be mailing fees and additional charges when the recipient designates the group or groups to receive the money. There may be few or no local or regional groups." Last, a charity gift card might expire, returning the money to the issuer, not a charity.

Give a gift that gives back instead. You can also give a charitable Christmas gift that turns the gift-to-donation ratio upside down. There are numerous holiday gifts that involve goodies for your loved one and a little extra for a beneficiary charity.

Just a few recommended by Good Housekeeping include travel-size skin savers that also benefit victims of domestic abuse; a French-inspired tote with all proceeds going to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for women worldwide; and floral rain boots that turn 10 percent of profits to education initiatives.

Always check out any charity you plan to give to. A good place to start is Give.org, the "wise giving alliance" for the Better Business Bureau.

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New spam impacts some Gmail accounts

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:37 PM

A new form of spam is causing some computer experts to scratch their heads.  

Messages you didn’t send but appear to come from your Gmail account may wind up in your sent messages folder.

The trick lets the spammers bypass Gmail’s spam filters, according to Gizmodo.com.

This doesn’t mean your account has been compromised, in fact, the problem continues for some users who have changed their password, or use two-factor authentication, according to Cnet.com.  

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will be talking to a local tech expert to find out more about how this is happening and what you can do to protect your Gmail account.  

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Toddler toys, decorative pillows, and water bottles among the latest product recalls 

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 2:41 PM

Toddler toys, decorative pillows, and water bottles among the latest product recalls

Children’s xylophones, water bottles sold at Costco, and 21 styles of decorative pillows are among the latest recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

The Petit Collage musical jumbo wooden xylophones made by Wild & Wolf are under recall because the ball on the end of the stick can detach and pose a choking hazard. 

There is one report of the ball separating and another report of a loose ball, but no injuries.

They were sold at Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters and other retailers.

Don’t let your child use the toy and contact Wild & Wolf at 855-215-5879 to receive a free replacement beater stick. 

Reduce Hydro Pro Water bottles are being recalled over lead paint. 

They were sold in two packs with a dog and lamb design printed on the outside.

No one has been hurt, but the pink paint on the outside of the bear bottles contain levels of toxic lead that exceed federal standards.

Don’t use the recalled bottles and contact Base Brands at 833-600-2887 or return them to place of purchase for a full refund or replacement bottle. 

Decorative pillows by Primark are being recalled because they may catch on fire. 

No one has been hurt, but don’t use the cushions which come in 21 shapes, sizes and colors, click here for full product codes and descriptions. 

Contact Primark at 855-215-5829 or return the pillows to the store for a full refund. 

One million Square D safety switches are under recall because the could shock or electrocute users, although no injuries have been reported.

The power may stay on when in the “OFF” position on several catalog numbers of the general duty switches made by Schneider Electric. 

Contact Schneider Electric at 877-672-1953 or click here to find out how to inspect the switch, receive free service support, and a replacement switch. 

Pressure washer surface cleaners by Briggs and Stratton are being recalled because  the spray bar can fly off and cause an injury. 

One person reported needing sutures on a cut to the knee after being struck by the bar.    There are four other reports of the bars detaching from the central hub. 

3000 PSI Briggs and Stratton and Crafsman branded surface cleaners are involved in the recall.

Stop using the cleaners and Contact Briggs and Stratton at 877-370-7505 to receive a free replacement. 

RELATED: Recent Recalls from CPSC 

Jo-Ann Stores are recalling string light sets which can break and cut you.

Two people have  been cut by the decorative glass jars in the Jo-Ann’s Makers Holiday 10-count LED string lights. 

Don’t use the lights and contact Jo-Ann stores at 888-739-4120 for a full refund. 

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Polaris is recalling Ranger XP recreational off-highway vehicles and Phoenix 200 all-terrain vehicles due to injury and crash concerns.

Multiple model numbers of the 2016 and 2017 Ranger XP ROVs have seat belt brackets that can separate from the frame. No injuries have been reported.

All model year 2014 through 2017 Phoenix ATVs are being recalled because of nine reports of a damaged throttle limiter, with one minor injury.

Stop using the ROVs and ATVs and contact Polaris at 800-765-2747 for a free repair.

For more on these and other recalls visit CPSC.gov.

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Local students learn how to combat scams, fraud

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 1:08 PM

Students in the Miami Valley are learning to recognize fraud and scams, and finding out how they can protect themselves from these potential money pitfalls.

Several schools in our area teach a free consumer life skills and financial literacy curriculum called FoolProof. 

The goal of the web-based, interactive coursework is to teach a healthy dose of skepticism in a scam-filled world.

Related: "Shimming” is the latest threat to shoppers

Kettering, Xenia, Franklin, Stebbins, Greenville and Lebanon high schools offer FoolProof classes.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will find out more about what the students learn and what they can teach us about avoiding scams and fraud. 

Watch tonight on WHIO-TV at 5pm.

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Audit-proofing your taxes 

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

Audit-proofing your taxes

First, the good news.  The IRS is auditing fewer taxpayers.  

In fact, audits are at an all-time low. You can’t completely audit-proof your tax returns, but there are ways to make your chance of an IRS investigation less likely. 
Failing to report taxable income and cryptocurrency income, are among Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s list of audit red flags.

Math errors, sizeable donations, home office deductions and deductions of unreimbursed business expenses, for example, commuting costs and clothing, are also going to raise eyebrows at the IRS.

RELATED: IRS ID theft prevention steps appear to be working

One of the biggest red flags is income.

The more money you make the more likely you’ll be scrutinized by the IRS, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.  

If you make $200,00 or more, there is a one in 80 chance of an audit, and if you make more than $1 million your odds are one in 25, according to Clark Howard’s website, Clark.com.

News Center 7 consumer reporter Rachel Murray will have insight from a local tax preparer about ways to audit-proof your tax return tonight on WHIO-TV at 5.

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