BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are asking you to be vigilant before you donate this holiday season. Experts say scammers are more active during December, preying on your generosity and kindness.
“These are bad people,” Landry said. “We’re celebrating the birth of Christ and here they are, basically trying to rob us. It’s worse than the Grinch, and it’s criminal activity.”
The BBB says scammers are targeting the elderly and exploiting children, law enforcement, and diseases like cancer to swindle you. They can disguise themselves by using names that sound like real charities and may pressure you to pay immediately.
“Knowing what you’re supposed to be doing and how you’re supposed to check into those organizations is your responsibility as a donor,” said Baton Rouge BBB communications director Christina Johnson. “If they’re armed with the right information and they know what to look for, then they’re going to be able to protect themselves. Then what can the scammers do?”
The Attorney General’s Office recommends protecting your donations by doing the following:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organizations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites
- Beware of organizations with copy cat names similar to, but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities
- Rather than follow a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of the site by confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status
- To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf
- Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities will never use strong pressure tactics
- Be aware of whom you are dealing with when providing your personal and financial information. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
- Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
- Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charities’ websites end in .org rather than .com.
You can check a charity’s credentials through the Better Business Bureau at Give.org.