When the calendar turns to December, most of us have something to look forward to. A big meal with loved ones. A well-lit and thoroughly decorated tree. Maybe even a new gadget from Best Buy that your mom bought on Black Friday and has been hiding from you for the last month.

The point is, the holidays are a time of happiness and giving. And that includes giving to charities. With the weather turning cold and the holidays upon us, it’s natural to give something to those in need, so that all of us can enjoy the holiday season.

But according to WTNH, anyone giving back this year has to be careful. Apparently, scammers pretending to be taking charitable donations are on the rise in 2016. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection told WTNH that they have already received 134 charity scam complaints this year. They only had 47 last year.

This kind of thing is sickening on two levels. First (and most obvious), these scammers are bilking people out of their hard-earned cash. It’s stealing. And worse yet, it’s stealing under the premise that the money will go toward helping others.

But what might actually be worse is that it makes people more hesitant to give back. There are so many people who want to give back during this important time of year, but I’m sure that many of them are deterred because they don’t want to accidentally “donate” to a scammer.

So if you come across a charity soliciting donations this year and it seems a little fishy, do your research. Look the charity up online and ask questions before donating. And if it seems like something is wrong, report it to the DCP. Even if you don’t plan to donate, making it safe for others to do so is its own form of giving back.

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