Whether you're ready or not, the holidays are right around the corner. It's the season for giving, but a local police department is warning everyone to watch out for an increased number of scams during the next few months.
An Oak Ridge apartment complex had to warn their residents this week after a door-to-door scam hit their community.
Last Friday after 9 p.m., people at Centennial Village Apartments got a knock on their door and a slip soliciting money. The complex said they soon found out the organization didn't exist.
"There's no reason you have to rush and give right away," said Sgt. Jeremy Huddleston with Oak Ridge Police Department.
He said if you plan to donate to a charity, take your time to research and make sure it's legitimate.
Last year Americans gave $292 billion to charity, according to Giving USA. The charitable holiday season is something scammers tend to take advantage of.
"Education is the best way to keep from getting scammed," said Sgt. Huddleston who is sending out an early warning. "Prevention is the best way to stop these things before someone becomes a victim."
Recently most scams in Oak Ridge have come through the phone, but the door-to-door scams at the complex have everyone on high alert.
It's a scam seen in other parts of the country, one the Better Business Bureau says to be wary of. The scammers will solicit for cash donations door-to-door under the guise that they are collecting money to build care packages to send to military members serving overseas.
In this case -- it was a group calling itself the 'Care Package Project.'
"People had been not only knocking on her door but every door in the community," said leasing consultant Schylar Meile. "It was for soldiers, it was care packages."
However, the number on the slip left at doors was disconnected, and the website URL heads to a domain that is not actually set up. Nothing stopped the scammers, despite the apartments are within a gated community with clear signs of 'no soliciting.'
"It's not easy for someone to waltz in and knock on 252 doors," said Meile.
Similar scams have struck Denver, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and elsewhere. Huddleston said the only way to stay protected from scams is to stay vigilant and always ask questions.
"Stay educated on it. Take your time, ask lots of questions and keep informed."
There are legitimate organizations that collect donations for care packages. However, most of these organizations stress they do not conduct door-to-door fundraising and to always be wary of someone soliciting donations out of the blue.
If you come across something that seems like a scam, contact the Better Business Bureau. If someone continues to pressure you for money, contact your local law enforcement agency.