The end of the year is a time when people spend money on gifts for family and friends. But it’s also a time when they give to charities. After all, we want to help our friends and neighbors who need the assistance during the holiday, plus donations can often be tax deductible.
But this is also a time when scammers are especially pushy in asking for donations to their fake charities. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) says consumers should do research on the charities they give to, especially if they receive phone calls or letters from organizations they aren’t familiar with.
The DATCP offers these tips for you to consider before contributing to a charitable organization:
- Donate to charities you trust and that are well-established, using CharityNavigator or give.org to review information on the charities
- Check with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to see if the charity is registered
- Contact the DATCP at 800-422-7182 to determine if complaints have been filed against a charity
- If contacted by phone by a charity you aren’t familiar with, ask them to send you information by mail—providing you an opportunity to get more information before you send money
- Ask charities to provide information on the services they provide, what percentage of donations are used for fundraising, whether the donation is tax-deductible, and whether you’ll receive a receipt
While online or in your email, watch for websites that look like real charities. Scammers often use names and websites that are like those of better-known and more established charities. Look at the spelling of the name and web address closely.
More information on what to watch for can be found on the DATCP website. You can also learn more about ways you can protect your money through services offered by Peoples State Bank.