Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Charity Giving Must Be Researched

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel so bad for the people in Boston after the marathon bombings. I want to give money to help. I'm a little afraid, though, of where to send my money. I hear that there has been a lot of money collected already and there are scam businesses set up to divert the money going to victims of the bombing. I know I can go to the Red Cross, but what if I want to give another charity a chance? How can I do it safely? -- Wanting to Give, Philadelphia

DEAR WANTING TO GIVE: It is wonderful how generous people have been in the wake of this tragedy. And you are right to be wary of how to give. I also like the idea of sharing the wealth with a variety of charities, but you need to be sure your choice is legitimate.

The IRS has come up with a few guidelines for safe charitable giving:

-- Donate to qualified charities. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.

-- Be wary of charities with similar names.

-- Don't give out personal financial information. Do not give your Social Security, credit card of bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.

-- Don't give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check, credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.

-- Report suspected fraud. Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords "Report Phishing."

DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that it is spring, people are dressing crazy. I saw one woman wearing a miniskirt, and as she crossed the street her skirt blew up in the air and exposed her panties. That was not cute at all. I saw another woman who didn't seem to even have on panties while wearing a sheer skirt. Now, I am no prude, but I do think people should at least take a look at themselves before they walk out the door. Can you please say something to these people about appropriate dress? -- Appalled, New York City

DEAR APPALLED: I have seen my fair share of too much body exposed, especially in warmer months. While I love fashion and like the idea of people having the freedom to express their unique personalities through their attire, I believe that we all should know where to draw the line.

I suggest that you think about your day before you leave your home. Make note of what you have to do and what is expected of you when you show up. That includes what you have to wear. Consciously decide how to dress so that you will feel empowered throughout the day. Once you are dressed, look at yourself in the mirror -- head to toe, front to back. Make sure that you like the way you look all the way around.

If you do that, chances are you will think twice about not putting on underwear or wearing something so short or so low-cut that you will not be comfortable all day long.