Beware of donation scams

Beware of donation scams

By Daniel Gutierrez. CREATED Dec 4, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Tis the season for giving. Many organizations are looking for your charitable dollars during the holiday season. Now in a Contact 13 consumer alert, a warning about how thieves are trying to take advantage of your giving spirit.

"You want to make sure those hard earned dollars are donated to a legitimate charity," says Katie Robison with the Better Business Bureau.

That's the message this month for anyone looking to give to a worthy cause. The BBB warns that many scammers are using the phone to try and steal your money.

"When you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be affiliated with a charity, you really don't know who's on the other end," says Katie.

Thieves are using familiar organization names to gain your trust. That's why you should be the one making the call. Beware of anyone calling you, especially when they're using emotional pleas or high-pressure tactics.

"Those organizations that are in the business know how important it is making donors feel at ease," says Lloyd Ziel with the American Red Cross.

He says you should never feel rushed into making a donation. And if you do, you probably shouldn't trust the person on the other end of the line.

"Being aggressive is not a way that we're going to try to raise money. We're going to make sure people feel good about their contribution," says Lloyd.

But the phone isn't the only way scammers are trying to cheat you out of your cash. The BBB says they're also using the Internet, trying to get you to punch in your credit card information on fake sites.

"Donate over a secure website. Look for that https, which will make sure you aren't the victim of identity theft," says Katie.

That "s" at the end stands for secure. If it's not there, your information could be put in the wrong hands. In the end, no matter who you're donating to, Lloyd says it should be a pleasant experience.

"Because what they're doing by donating their hard earned money to us is colossal, it's a huge gift," says Lloyd.

So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. No matter who you're donating to, do your homework. It's always good to know how much of your donation actually goes to the cause. Sometimes a large portion could be going to pay for administrative costs. For Contact 13, I'm Tricia Kean.