Officials warn of fake charity scams during holidays

Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection asks consumers to watch out for scammers who try to gather funds through fake charities.

Before making donations, DATCP said in a release to do some research and be leery of phone- and internet-based requests.

“The holidays are a wonderful time to support your favorite causes,” said Michelle Reinen, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But to ensure that your funds go where you desire, please verify the group you are giving to is legitimate before making a payment.”

Common charity scams include look-alike sites or imposter websites, phony emails that are “phishing” for personal information or giving a check or cash to an individual as opposed to an organization.

If considering a charitable donation, DATCP said to donate to charities you trust which are well-established. You can do research at charitynavigator.org, give.org or the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ website.

DATCP also recommends checking in with them to see if there are any consumer complaints on file against the organization.

If contacted by phone, DATCP said to avoid being pressured to make an immediate donation. You can ask a solicitor to send you written information or explain the purpose of the organization, what services are provided, how much goes to fundraising expenses, whether the donation is tax-deductible and if you’ll be sent a receipt.

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