Be Careful and Do Research Before Making a Donation
In the wake of highly publicized tragedies, Connecticut Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to be selective and do their research before making a donation.
Con artists quickly set up shop in the wake of high-profile news stories ranging from natural disasters to the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings to try and cheat well-meaning donors.
According to the federal consumer watchdog agency the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), criminals often solicit donations for non-existent charities or misrepresent how donated money will be used. Phony appeals may come in the form of telephone calls, emails, on websites and through social networking.
The FTC Charity Checklist offers donors some tips to avoid getting stung by phony fundraisers:
- Ask the telemarketer for the name of the charity they claim to represent
- Visit a charity’s website to ensure it has authorized the solicitation.Research charities’ reputations through their Better Business Bureau Charity Review or the National Charity Report Index. BBB‘s Wise Giving Alliance sets standards of accountability that can help you find a suitable fundraising organization.
- Never provide credit card information until you have verified the legitimacy of a fundraising campaign.
- Ask for a receipt for the full donation amount for tax purposes.
- Avoid cash gifts. If you pay by check, make it payable to the charitable organization, not the solicitor.
The State of Colorado has established the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, which is accepting donations through the Community First Foundation website at www.givingfirst.org.
The FTC offers more information on avoiding charity fraud at www.ftc.gov/charityfraud.