‘You have to be very leery:’ BBB issues warning about scams on Giving Tuesday

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Jim Temmer

MILWAUKEE -- Tuesday, Dec. 3 marked Giving Tuesday -- a nationwide push to use the holiday spirit to support charities. However, anytime there is generosity, scammers will try to take advantage.

After a weekend full of shopping, Giving Tuesday offered a way to give back. Many turn to the internet to make donations -- opening a door for scammers.

"When you're giving electronically, and you're not paying too close of attention to what you're doing, it is easy to get scammed," said Jim Temmer, CEO/president BBB Wisconsin.

The Better Business Bureau estimated millions of dollars are lost to scammers every Giving Tuesday.

"They're really taking it twice," said Temmer. "They're taking it from the donor, and the money is not going to the charity, so they're taking it from them, too."

Many of the scams are found on social media.

"You have to be very leery of those," said Temmer. "If you know somebody personally, that's fine if you want to give. If you don't know that person, especially on Facebook and social media, a lot of ads pop up and they're fake."

Scammers will also set up fake websites or try to pressure people into giving. The BBB said real charities will never push you to donate -- and will always be willing to answer questions.

"Just because you should be careful, doesn't mean you shouldn't give," said Temmer.

The BBB suggested going to Give.org to research a charity before donating.  The BBB also warned that scammers will often pose as real charities.

BBB WGA shared five tips to help donors give wisely and make the most of their generosity this holiday season:

  • Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.
  • Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
  • Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Always research to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
  • Avoid charities that don’t disclose. Although participation is voluntary, charities that don’t disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit Give.org to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.
  • Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.
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