RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The week following Thanksgiving isn’t just about shopping for the holidays, it’s also a major time to support charities — with initiatives like Giving Tuesday.

As we open our hearts this holiday season, scammers are opening their bag of tricks to entice you to give to groups or organizations that don’t exist.

It’s estimated that almost 472 billion went to charities last year and almost 40 percent of that is given during the last two weeks of the year.

With that huge cash flow coming out of our wallets and pocketbooks, scammers want a chunk of those funds.

Meredith Radford of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina says there are telltale signs if a charity or an appeal is fake.

“Pressure. They might get you to donate immediately,” she said. “They might call you on the phone and tell you to donate right now. That can be a red flag.”

Other red flags include:

  • Unsolicited emails or texts asking you to give
  • Social media posts asking for donations
  • Requests to provide donations in cash

“Another one can be name confusion,” said Radford. “Scammers can use a charity name that’s not real, but sounds like an organization you’ve heard of to trip you up.”

There are lots of ways to check on a charity.

Nationally, websites like the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, and GuideStar are good online resources to research an organization’s authenticity.

In North Carolina, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall’s office publishes an annual report on charities showing the percentage of funds that go to administrative and fundraising as well as what percentage goes to the charity itself.

Those reports dating back to 1999 are also available online so you can check a charity’s past activities too.

Be wary of any charity claiming 100 percent of the money raised goes to the cause. Also beware of solicitors who call demanding you donate “now-now-now!”

“They want to get to you before you’ve had time to think through what you are doing—so do your research,” said Radford.

You should also be aware that not all charitable donations are tax deductible. That’s especially true with things like go-fund-me or other online funding sites.