Beware of charity scams this holiday season. Disasters like the Newtown massacre and Hurricane Sandy have us all thinking about donating to affected families, especially the children. Unfortunately, bad guys often take advantage of our goodwill. Make your charity donation dollars go further by taking some simple steps. My go-to checkpoint is Charity Navigator, which rates charities for effectiveness. Find out what percentage of donations the charity of your choice uses for programs, and how much for administration, including salaries. Fund-raisers can keep up to 90% of the money they raise, so use the solicitations that come in the mail as a reminder, and donate charity directly on a charity’s website. Get more tips on how to make your charity dollars go further in my article on Living on the Cheap. And check the NYCOTC Hurricane Sandy resource page for tips on avoiding homeowner repair scams and other frauds, along with advice on negotiating paperwork for FEMA and insurance claims.