December is a critical month for charities to raise money. In fact, nearly one third of annual giving occurs in December. Scammers are well aware of this and are out in full force looking to line their own pockets as the year draws to an end. South Dakota Attorney General, Marty Jackley “encourages South Dakotans to continue to give to those less fortunate, but to follow these precautions to ensure [the] donation is going to the cause for which it is intended.”

How it Works:

 

  • Scammers use the same techniques as trusted charities to reach you – in person, by mail, over the phone, online, by text, or by e-mail – so be mindful regardles of the fundraiser’s methods.
  • The name of the fake charity may closely resemble the name of a real charity.
  • The fake charity might ask you to wire money or give cash. You should see this as a red flag!
What You Should Know:

 

  • Real charities need your support, and they, like us, lose out when a scammer intervenes.
  • Scammers will put pressure on you to act quickly, before you have a chance to think through your decision or do any research.
  • The South Dakota Attorney General’s office encourages us to be especially wary of social network fundraising or crowdfunding as most of these types of fundraising efforts are not regulated.
What You Should Do:

 

  • Most people don’t research charities before they donate. But it’s easy and important to do! Check out charities at www.give.org or www.charitynavigator.org before giving any money.
  • If you are approached in person ask for identification and details about the charity, including its full name and address, and how they will use the funds. If the person can’t furnish this information, close your door or walk away.
  • The Federal Trade Commission suggests making an annual donation plan to list out which causes you will support and which reputable charities will receive your money. Instead of responding to unsolicited emails, go directly to the recognized charties or aid organizations to donate.

If you are approached by a fake fundraiser, alert the SD Division of Consumer Protections by calling 1-800-300-1986 or visiting consumer.sd.gov. They can investigate these scams and warn other South Dakotans to stay vigilant.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.