COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The season of giving is here, but those looking to donate to any charities this holiday season need to make sure their money is getting where it's supposed to go.
The Better Business Bureau warns the season of giving creates an opportunity for scammers to attempt to line their own pockets, and regional director Khesha Duncan said charity scams tend to increase around the holidays.
"If you hear an appeal or something tugs at your heartstrings or it's a charity that you care about, you can be tempted to just see a social media post or a crowdfunding site and want to immediately donate," Duncan said. "But, you really should stop before you give in to that feeling and do your research."
She said it's important to make sure an organization's web address is secure, that a charity has a physical location and that there's a phone number to be called.
"If a charity doesn't have a phone number, that's a reason to be really concerned," Duncan said.
November 28 is known as Giving Tuesday, a day encouraging people to give to those in need and donate to organizations making a difference. It's also the start of the 11th CoMoGives campaign put on by the Community Foundation of Central Missouri.
This year, executive director John Baker said there is a goal of $2 million with 175 organizations.
"All of the organizations in CoMoGives have been vetted, they're legitimate," Baker said. "We know who their leaders are, we know where they work, where they play.
Baker said he also sees donation scams and fake charities pop up this time of year, and warns people not to fall for any phishing scams trying to get personal information.
"If you ever get an email asking you to do something in a hurry, 'give us this bank number now, what's your telephone number now' don't do that," Baker said. "That's almost always a phishing scam."
The BBB said to avoid any organizations pressuring donations on the spot.
"You should really be wary if you get those kinds of calls and text messages because any organization that's trustworthy is going to happily accept your donation tomorrow as well as they'll accept it today," Duncan said.
She also said to be wary if an organization says 100% of proceeds will go toward its cause, because legitimate charities will have some sort of overhead cost. She said people can check the BBB's website to see if an organization is legitimate.
Duncan also advises to pay with a credit card to be able to have documentation, or pay in-person to ensure the money goes directly to that organization.