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Giving to charities can be good – if the charities are real


Now more than ever, charities are relying on the generosity of donors to meet the increased need for their services across the state. Because of this, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), are offering tips to help ensure donations will reach the organization of choice.

“Scammers sometimes use phony websites and highpressure pitches to gather funds for fake charities, in an effort to steal your money and personal information,” said Lara Sutherlin, administrator of th eDATCP’s Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “There are many simple ways you can protect yourself from scammers and make sure you are donating to a legitimate charity.”

“With a little research and a few precautions, you can help ensure your donations will be used as intended, and go to organizations that are genuinely serving others,” said Patti Epstein, administrator of the DFI’s Division of Corporate and Consumer Services.

If someone receives a phone call, email or text from someone asking for a donation, the following tips should be put into practice: • Do not make a payment over the phone, hang up and do additional research first.

• Do not click on links or attachments in emails, text messages or social media posts, and do not share information with senders that are unknown.

• Watch for imposter website links or social media profi les; check the spelling of the charity’s name on the account and website.

• If the name or number is unfamiliar, ask who is making the request, i.e. name, address and phone number of the organization asking for the donation.

• Ask how the donation will be used and what percentage of the donation will be used for program services (also referred to as the organization’s charitable purpose), rather than for administrative, management or fundraising costs.

• Ask a caller to send written material about the organization.

Before donating to a charitable organization, review the DFI’s webpage on charitable organizations, which includes tips for donors and a database of state-registered charitable organizations, at Also, visit the DATCP’s website for more information on protecting from charitable donations scams, at

The charity in question can also be researched at charitynavigator. org.