HELENA - The end of the year is almost here, and for a lot of people, that means it’s time to donate to nonprofits, but scammers try and take advantage of your generosity.
The Montana Office of Consumer Protection reports that 11% of all online donations come during the last three days of December which means the end of the year is also a target for scammers.
“The scammer is either posing as a legitimate nonprofit or they’re creating a fake website and a fake nonprofit and they are trying to steal money and personal information from the donor," said investigator Marcus Meyer.
There are many options of donating, such as giving to an endowment and the Montana Community Foundation says that’s where they can help.
“Individuals or businesses that pay any kind of income tax in the state of Montana can give a gift to a qualified endowment, which all of our endowments are qualified endowments, and then take not only a federal deduction but a state tax credit," said Montana Community Fund Executive Director Mary Rutherford.
In order to donate and get any credits or deductions for this tax season, it must be done soon, "technically the deadline for all gifts, for this year’s tax season is December 31st, but don’t wait," Rutherford advised.
Scammers will likely call you and try to use high-pressure tactics to get you to give up your money or personal information. Rutherford says that when in doubt, "well, trust your gut. Frankly, a lot of scammers out there make a lot of money with ten dollar gifts so do your homework.”
That homework means being proactive. Make a list of who they want to give to throughout the year and make a timeline, request information; ask where the donations are going to go and ask if the money raised is for a specific purpose
“So, if they are able to gather that information than they can make that educated decision if they want to donate or not," Meyer said.