NEW YORK (
TheStreet) Americans are sure in a giving mode during the holidays, and this year should be no different.
According to the Blackbaud 2012 Charitable Giving Report, December is far and away the strongest month on the calendar for charitable giving.
It accounts for 17.7% of all giving for the year, just about double the amount of October, the second-leading month (at 8.4%), and way ahead of July, the lowest month for charitable activity (at 6.5%).
Even as Americans should be applauded for their generosity in the holiday season, some institutions are warning consumers to be on guard this month, as it's also the highest period of financial fraud activity.That warning come from Western Union and the Better Business Bureau, who banded together to create the BBB Scam Stopper division. Give.org. The BBB advises always giving to a charity after you've checked it out, and never after being hit up for a donation on the phone or by clicking a Web or email link. account information with a nonprofit group you don't know or with an individual you don't know. If you're unsure, contact the charity directly and don't send any cash until you're sure the group is legitimate. Watch out for phony websites. Online con artists like to use lookalike online sites to lure you into their web. By and large, they get you to click on Web or email links that take you directly to the phony site. That can lead to toxic malware being downloaded into your computer, laptop or tablet, and it can also lead to your personal financial data being compromised. Above all, don't be quick to pull the trigger on a donation. ID thieves are counting on you doing that. "Resist rushing. If a charity is legitimate, they'll accept your donation any time," says Shelley Bernhardt, director of consumer protection at Western Union. That's good advice, especially if you want to use the busy holiday season to give to charity. Go slow and improve your chances of dodging scamsters during the Christmas season.