What you need to know before making a donation to charity this h - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

What you need to know before making a donation to charity this holiday season

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Giving Tuesday is just the start of the giving season for many people in the community, but before your donations are dropped, officials say to double check your charity.

The Department of Trade and Consumer Protection is warning people against charity scams this holiday season.

News 18 spoke with the United Way on Tuesday. Executive Director, Jan Porath said if you start feeling a lot of pressure by an organization, it's okay to put them on a pause to do some research. With so many different ways to give, and so many different organizations to give to, it's important to double check websites and ask questions.

"If an organization isn't able to answer some questions about where the funds are being allocated to, how they would be used, if they don't know whether they're a tax deductible organization, some of those generally basic questions that a typical charity organization would know, that would be concerning," Porath said. "If they're really cryptic, or not willing to share that information, to me that would be a red flag too."

Porath said there are a number of online resources to double check a charity, and if it looks suspicious report it to local police.

The Department of Trade and Consumer Protection also provides a charity check list to help you through the process of determining an organization's legitimacy.

DATCP and DFI offer these tips for donors considering a contribution to a charitable organization:

  • If contacted by phone, avoid being pressured to make an immediate donation. Don't hesitate to ask the caller to send you information about the organization and its programs.
  • Ask a solicitor to explain the purpose of the organization, what services are provided, how much of the donation goes to fund-raising expenses, whether the donation is tax-deductible, and whether you will be sent a receipt.
  • Donate to charities that you trust and are well-established.
  • Watch out for "look-alike" sites or imposter websites. Scammers will often use names and websites that are similar to those of better-known, reputable organizations. Watch the spelling of the charity's name and web address (URL) closely.
  • Be wary of unsolicited requests for donations, especially ones received by email or text.
  • Criminals know that many people make year-end charitable contributions for tax purposes, so they may take a tax-related angle in pitching their scam.
  • Never write out a check or give cash to an individual solicitor. Write out checks to the name of the organization or use a credit card.

For more information or to file a complaint, consumers may contact:

  • DATCP on the web at datcp.wi.gov; by phone (Consumer Protection Hotline) at 800-422-7128; by e-mail at datcphotline@wisconsin.gov; or at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer.
  • DFI on the web at www.wdfi.org/CharitableOrganizations; by phone at 800-452-3328; or by e-mail at DFISecretary@wisconsin.gov.
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