Many consumers open their hearts and wallets during the holiday season, donating generously to charities. Unfortunately, the season of goodwill opens the market to scammers who use high-pressure pitches to gather funds through fake charities.
Two state agencies ask consumers to do their research on charities before making a contribution this holiday season and to be leery of pushy phone- and internet-based requests for payments.
“If you enjoy making donations during the holidays, by all means, give generously…but donate wisely and with your eyes wide open,” said Michelle Reinen, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). “Be suspicious of aggressive, out-of-the-blue requests for donations and always take the time to learn more about a charity before making a payment.”
Before donating, check with DATCP about any consumer complaints on file against the organization and check to see if the charity is registered with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
“When people are considering a donation, they want to make sure that their donation is being put to good use by the charity,” said Mary Ann McCoshen, Administrator of the DFI’s Division of Corporate and Consumer Services. “Potential donors can check out how charities are using donations by looking into their spending levels on the DFI website at wdfi.org/CharitableOrganizations.”
For more information or to file a complaint, consumers may contact: DATCP at datcp.wi.gov; by phone (Consumer Protection Hotline) at 800.422.7128; by email at [email protected]; or at facebook.com/wiconsumer.