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It’s the season to give but don’t give to scammers, state officials say

November 28, 2018

If you are in a giving mood this holiday season, make sure the organization you plan to give to is legitimate.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection issued an advisory concerning gift giving to charities and other non-profits, to make sure the charity of choice does what it says it does.

Scammers are not shy about designing look-alike websites to mimic traditional charities, so be sure before hitting the “send money” button.

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

DATCP has a few simple guidelines for charitable gift-giving:

Donate to charities you trust and are well established. Go to charitynavigator.org or give.org for background and contact data on known charities.See if the charity is registered with the state Department of Financial Institutions by going to www.wdfl.org/CharitableOrganizations.Contact DATCP to see if there’s been any consumer complaints filed against an organization by calling the hotline, 800-422-7182.If contacted by phone from a supposed charity, don’t give in to pressure to make a donation right away, and ask the solicitor for more information, such as where does the money go, is the donation tax-deductible and if a receipt will be sent.Watch out for look-alike sites, which could have typos or other mistakes a professional organization wouldn’t make.Never write out a check to an individual soliciting funds, only to the organization.

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