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BBB warns of charity scams in wake of Boston Marathon bombing

Published 4:58pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

MADISON – The Boston Marathon bombing already has caused at least one charity scam to emerge. More are likely, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges that individuals report any suspicious charitable solicitations to “BBB Report a Scam” (bbb.org/us/scam-source/report-a-scam), BBB president Michele Mason said.

Tragedies inspire people to give, but catastrophes “can inspire scammers to take advantage of that generosity,” Mason said. Social media greatly accelerates mass promotion of donations “when emotions are running high and people feel the need to take action.”

The BBB alliance issued ten tips for giving with confidence:

1. Thoughtful giving — Verify the charity and find trusted organizations for giving.

2. Spread the word — Remind friends and family to exercise caution if they receive a request for giving.

3. State registration — “About 40 states require charities to register with a state government agency, usually with the state attorney general’s office, before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag,” Mason said.

4. Respecting victims — Fundraising organizations can use victim names or photographs only by permission. Some charities were requesting donations for Aurora, Colo. and Newton, Conn. victims without permission.

5. Donation destinations — Avoid vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds.

6. Family funds — Confirm that families who set up their own accounts are using a third party, like a bank, to collect money.

7. Online perils — Never click links to charities on unfamiliar websites, texts or emails. Recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media may be bogus.

8. Financial transparency — Organizations should report how donations are spent.

9. Longstanding organizations — An established charity is the best choice.

10. Tax deductibility – Donors can claim tax deductions only for 501(c)3 organizations.

Also, American Red Cross currently has enough blood and funding committed to Boston.

For more information, call 256-533-1640 or visit northalabama.bbb.org.

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