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Southern Alberta & East Kootenay
BBB Warns of Charity Scams during southern Alberta Flooding
June 27, 2013

flood car

Calgary, AB - June 21, 2013 - In a matter of hours after flood waters began taking homes and businesses in southern Alberta, offers to help exploded across social and mainstream media. While the vast majority of the offers are well intentioned and sincere, BBB warns those wanting offer financial aid to do their due diligence before writing a cheque.

"Tragedies inspire people to give," says Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootena. "But, tragedies also inspire scammers to take advantage of that generosity.

Social media, in particular, makes it very easy to reach a lot of people quickly, when emotions are running high and people feel the need to take action, any action, to help." BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others:

BBB Wise Giving Alliance: Tips for Giving with Confidence

  1. Thoughtful Giving Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. Be proactive and find trusted charities that are providing assistance.
  2. Help Spread the Wise Giving Word Remind your friends and family to be cautious about giving requests in the wake of a disaster and ask them to spread the word as well. People are emotionally moved by events like these and may react before they have time to carefully consider.
  3. Revenue Canada Registration Revenue Canada requires registration and provides legitimate charities with a number. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.
  4. How Will Donations Be Used? Watch out for vague appeals that don't identify the intended use of funds. For example, how will the donations help victims' families? Also, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that funds collected quickly in the wake of a tragedy will be spent just as quickly. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.
  5. Online Cautions Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer. Don't assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted.
  6. Financial Transparency After funds are raised for a tragedy, it is even more important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out and not have to wait until the audited financial statements are available sometime in the future.
  7. Newly Created or Established Organizations This is a personal giving choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly formed organization may be well-meaning but will be difficult to check out and may not be well managed.
  8. Tax Deductibility Not all organizations collecting funds to assist this tragedy are tax exempt as charities. Donors can support these other entities but keep this in mind if they want to take a deduction for federal income tax purposes. In addition, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual/family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.

Other Resources: BBB Wise Giving Alliance is asking anyone who receives a suspicious charitable solicitation to report it to BBB Report a Scam.

About BBB Wise Giving Alliance: BBB Wise Giving Alliance produces reports on over 1,300 nationally soliciting charitable organizations, and local BBBs report on another 10,000 local and regional charities. BBB Wise Giving Alliance does not rank charities but rather seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments by providing objective evaluations of national charities based on 20 standards that address charity governance, finances, fund raising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. The outcomes of the evaluations are available online at www.give.org. BBB Wise Giving Alliance is an affiliate of the Council of Better Business Bureaus

About BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.

Media Contact:

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Email: leah@calgary.bbb.org
Phone: (403) 531-8793