Giving with care and caution during the holiday season

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - 'Tis the season of giving and Giving Tuesday is a nationwide push to use the holidays to support local and national charities. However, whenever there's generosity, 'Grinch-like' scammers take notice.

"We live in a very philanthropic state, in a very philanthropic country," Jessie Schmidt, South Dakota Better Business Bureau state director, said.

It's the 7th year of 'Giving Tuesday,' and last year, Americans gave more than $400 billion to charity, over a billion dollars per day. But, Schmidt says to be wary this holiday season before handing over your credit card information.

"Don't fall pressure to have to give today," she said. "An organization, while they are out making some great appeals today and they have very organized efforts around today. If you just feel more comfortable doing a little bit more research and you're going to make that gift tomorrow, or next week, that's just fine, too."

She suggests to be cautious of charities that mimic well-known organizations, check online at Give.org, or with the IRS, and if they give you emotional appeals and pressure you to give, it is probably not a real charity.

With the rise of social media, now comes the growth of the use of fundraising sites, including GoFundMe and Facebook. Unfortunately, scammers have figured out how to use those sites for a profit, as well.

Schmidt suggests do not donate to a social media site unless you know the person or if a person you know tells you their friend needs your help.

But, it is essential to remember scams like this happen year-round.

"Scammers never take a break, so they are ramping up their efforts this time of year, just like those legitimate organizations," she said.

If you fall victim to a scam, you can go to BBB.org's scam tracker and report it there or let the authorities know so the word can get out.