December is traditionally a busy month for charitable giving, as many donors are inspired by the holiday season to give generously to those in need, while others look to make year-end gifts that will qualify for a tax deduction in the current tax year.

Unfortunately, because of the increase in charitable giving, there is often an increase in charity scams during the holiday season. Donors should be wary of communications from unfamiliar organizations, including emails, texts, and phone calls, and should not provide personal or financial information without verifying the legitimacy of the request. Scammers often use popular charitable causes to solicit contributions, for example, by claiming that contributions will be used to help veterans, children, or cancer patients. The New York Attorney General recently announced the forced dissolution of one such organization, VietNow National Headquarters, which falsely claimed that contributions would be used to provide services and medical treatment to veterans.

Last week, the New York Attorney General issued a list of tips for safe end-of-year giving, which include:

  • Take time to research the charity before disclosing any personal information or making a contribution.
  • Don’t feel pressured to give to telemarketers. Be wary of anyone making vague claims, such as “all proceeds will go to charity,” or using pressure tactics such as repeated phone calls or threats.
  • Be aware that fraudulent charities often names that are similar to well-known, legitimate organizations.
  • Only use secure methods of payment to make a contribution. When donating online, confirm that the website is secure and includes ‘https’ in the web address. Before making a donation via text message, confirm that the charity has authorized contributions by text message.
  • Contributions should be made by check or credit card; do not give cash or make a contribution by wire transfer.