GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The season of giving is approaching and while you can expect to shell out a lot of money this year on gifts, there are a few key ways to make sure you hang onto as much as you can and avoid scammers.


While you may be trying to give gifts or monetary donations to those in need over the next few weeks, there are some who are looking to take advantage of that generosity.

Scammers will be out in full force so it’s important to know what to look out for and what to do if you fall victim to one.

Be sure to keep your posts on social media private if you ask for donations or are looking to find someone in need of them. Accounts could be hacked and lead to misinformation and ultimately lost funds.

Online shopping should be done with extreme care. Make sure to steer clear of websites that have unrealistic discounts or seem unreliable. You should check for the website’s legitimacy before giving away personal information as well.

If you receive an email from an unknown user asking for donations, it is best to avoid responding to them and just delete them. If you want to take it a step further, try and identify the sender and do some double-checking before responding.

If you do happen to fall victim, it’s important to contact the proper authorities right away. You can file reports to the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission or the FBI. If you have packages stolen, contact your local police department.


While you’re looking for something to give the special people in your life this holiday season, there is a way for you to pass down $17,000 without being taxed on it.

It’s called the annual gift tax exclusion and will allow you to avoid paying extra money for your gifts. Each person you elect to give a gift to cannot receive more than that $17,000 mark. Up until then, however, you are able to avoid the gift tax.

The topic becomes increasingly imperative during the holiday season as that is one of the most popular times to hand down gifts and in order for the gifts to count towards that year’s taxes, they must be made by Dec. 31.

At this time, there is no limit to the amount of annual exclusion gifts you can make in a calendar year but officials recommend limiting it to under $50,000.

Thomas DeMeester with Greenleaf Trust stopped by the WOOD TV Live Desk Wednesday to further discuss these topics in the video player above.