The Better Business Bureaus of Southern Arizona and Acadiana are warning consumers to beware of bogus charities that could be set up under the guise of assisting victims of the Monument Fire.
“Sadly, con-artists come out of the woodwork at times like this,” said Kim States, president of the BBB of Southern Arizona. “Scammers follow the headlines to stay on top of what’s going to get to the hearts and wallets of people who want to help.”
Many scam artists contact consumers and businesses by phone, mail or door-to-door solicitation and use high-pressure sales tactics to get donations. Some even go as far as setting up bogus websites to run the scam.
States says the best way to protect yourself is not react to high pressure tactics.
“Take time to verify the legitimacy of the appeal,” she says. “If it’s a legitimate charity they will take your money just as willingly tomorrow or next week.”
The BBB offers the following tips to ensure charities are legitimate:
If you are unsure about a solicitation for cash or other donations, get as much information as you can about the charity or individual and contact your BBB at acadiana.bbb.org.
- Get the full name of the organization that is soliciting to ensure the charity you are contributing to actually legitimate. In an attempt to fool consumers, some scam artists set up charities under names that sound very similar to mainstream relief organizations.
- If you are giving to a charity that promises to provide relief to victims, make sure the organization is experienced in disaster relief. There are many logistics involved in getting relief to victims and you’ll want to select charities that have proven track records in navigating those obstacles.
- If donating food, clothing or other supplies, make sure the charity you are giving those items has resources on site to get donated items in the hands of those in need.
- Avoid writing checks that are payable to an individual solicitor, unless that person is well-known to you. Make checks out to the actual relief organization.
- If donating online, search the Website to ensure the charity has a physical address on the site and that you’re using a secure site when entering account information. A Website is secure if an “s” is located at the end of http:// in the URL.
- Stay informed by checking in with local government Websites, information centers and trusted news sources. Updates on evacuations and other details about the Monument Fire can be found at www.cochise.az.gov. Lists of donation items needed as well businesses and individuals that are offering assistance in Cochise County can be found at www.sierravistaaz.gov.