AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - It's the season of giving, and the Better Business Bureau is warning people to beware of whom you're giving your hard-earned money to.
Officials say that this time of year is the peak season for criminals to prey on shoppers' wallets.
"Whatever they do with it, that's on them," said shopper Lorenzo McCladdie. "I just give from the heart."
According to John Sebby, director of development at the Salvation army in Augusta, this mentality is why many people fall victim to donation scams during the holidays.
"You know the saying buyers beware? Well donors be diligent," Sebby said. "They need to know the charity they're giving to."
Sebby said that scam artists have used the Salvation Army's name to make people think they were giving to a good cause, when they were actually pocketing donations. He said that there are things you can do to protect yourself from scammers.
"On telephones, get a number, get an address, look it up, check it out. Don't just get on the phone and give your credit card," Sebby said. "You want to go to somebody who you know and who you can trust."
The BBB agrees. They said do not trust companies who are trying to get you to donate by phone or e-mail.
"Look up the actual phone number to that organization to verify that the e-mail that you receive or the phone call you receive did come from that organization because one scam is that the scam artist will use legitimate organization name," said Gigi Turner, regional director at the CSRA and Central Georgia BBB.
Both organizations said that before you donate, do your research first.
"Do your research, do your due diligence, and make sure you're giving to somebody who's really going to help those in need."