'Tis the season to be jolly. Unfortunately, 'tis also the season for charity scams.
Consumers often become more generously minded in December, thanks partly to the many appeals they see and hear in malls and on the streets. A survey by Charity Navigator found that charities receive 41 percent of their donations in the last few weeks of the year. The approaching year-end tax deadline also makes December a great month to take charitable deductions.
But the very impulses that make us want to give can make us less cautious about whom or what we give to—and scam artists are all too aware of this.
Currently, certain online types of charity scams are on the rise, according to several experts.
Crowdfunding, for one, offers increasing opportunities for charitable giving—and for scams, according to Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the charity-monitoring organization affiliated with the Better Business Bureau.
(Read more: Charities get holiday boost from crowdfunding)
"You can read stories about individuals in need, or organizations that may be soliciting for various projects," he said. "Don't assume that the organizations or individuals on those sites have necessarily been vetted to any great degree. They may have verified that the organization has tax exempt status, and that may be it." In other words, you may be able to take a deduction for your donation, but that doesn't mean the entity you are funding is putting your money to use in any way close to what you intend.
There are other scams lurking online for careless givers, said Bill Kowalski, director of operations at Rehmann Corporate Investigative Services, part of Rehmann Financial Advisors. "If you are online looking for a place to give, if you mistype, there are similar sites with similar names," he said. Scam artists buy up URLs that are similar to the names of charities, and if your'e not careful, you can make a donation on the wrong site.