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DATCP and DFI Promote Charity Fraud Awareness

MADISON, Wis. – Many Wisconsinites will donate to charities, nonprofits, and other organizations this holiday season. During Charity Fraud Awareness Week, November 27 through December 1 the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is joining the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) in an effort to ensure donors’ money reaches real charitable organizations, not scammers taking advantage of their generosity.

“Consumers often make thoughtful contributions to charities and nonprofits, but are especially generous on Giving Tuesday and in the following weeks,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “Unfortunately, scammers know this too. Knowing how to identify and avoid a charity scam is important to both donors and the causes they support.”

“It’s important to thoroughly research a charitable organization before making a contribution,” said DFI Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins. “There are thousands of scams and scammers seeking to trick donors out of their charitable gift and personal information. Be cautious – don’t feel pressured by emotional appeals or urgent requests for donations. With a little research and a few precautions, donors can help ensure their donations go to organizations that are genuinely serving others.”

DATCP and DFI encourage donors to remember these tips for charitable giving:

• If a charitable organization asks for your donation, ask for more details.

Ask for their name, address, and phone number. Ask how much of your donation will be used for the charitable purpose vs. other costs.

• Be alert to impostor websites and social media profiles.

Scammers have been known to impersonate real charitable organizations. Check for spelling errors and other discrepancies that could signify a scam.

• Do not open links or attachments in unsolicited charity emails, texts, or social media posts.

These may be fraudulent, even if they appear real. Find the organization’s official website or social media account and visit it directly.

• Do not make payments in response to unsolicited phone calls.

Take time to research the organization first. If a solicitor is pressuring you to pay immediately and will not answer your questions, be extra cautious.

• Do not pay with cash, cryptocurrency, payment apps, or by wiring money.

It is nearly impossible to reverse these transactions. Use a credit card or write a check directly to the organization – not to an individual solicitor.

To learn more about a charitable organization, use resources like Give.org or CharityNavigator.org. Also, review DFI’s donor resources webpage to reduce unwanted solicitations, research charitable organizations, and verify if a charitable organization or professional fundraiser is registered with the DFI by searching the Wisconsin registrant database using this guide, calling (608) 267-1711, or emailing DFICharitableOrgs@dfi.wisconsin.gov.

For more information and consumer protection resources or to file a complaint, visit DATCP’s Consumer Protection webpage at ConsumerProtection.wi.gov. DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline can be contacted at (800) 422-7128 or DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov.

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