What you need to know to avoid charity scams

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) It's the season when most people are looking for ways to give back, but with that generosity comes scammers looking to prey on people donating to charities. The Better Business Bureau says it's important for people to do their research so donations end up in the right place.

"As much as you'd do your research to buy your next refrigerator, washer, dryer or your next new car, check out that charity if you're not familiar with them," Timothy Johnston, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Nevada, says.

The Better Business Bureau offers these basic giving tips:

1. Get the charity's exact name
2. Resist pressure
3. Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals
4. Press for specifics
5. Check websites for basic information
6. Check with state charity officials
7. Don't assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt as a charity

"A responsible organization will accept your donations today, tomorrow or the next day," Johnston says. "If someone is really pushing you, step back."

Another red flag to watch out for is scammers calling for donations over the phone.

"I don't remember who it was," Richard Foncault, a resident, says. "But I couldn't imagine why I would want to donate to someone over the phone.

Foncault said he received a phone call from someone asking for charity money.

"You know that would be a scam for sure," Foncault says.

Johnston says the main thing is to do the research to make sure your donation is used in the best way possible.

"Make sure you're giving to someone that you know, and if not, check them out," Johnston says.