Denver, CO – August 20, 2012 – One month after the devastating shooting tragedy in Aurora, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding donors that charity fraud is common but can be prevented. Almost immediately after several people were killed and injured in the shooting, funds and benefits of all kinds cropped up for the cause of helping those affected. While most are well intended, the BBB warns of fundraisers that use similar names of trusted organizations, and of misleading claims regarding how donations will be used.
“The tragedy is still fresh within our community and we want donors to know that charity fraud is common,” said Hope Marie Sneed, VP of development and PR for the BBB of Denver/Boulder. “The best way to prevent being a victim of charity fraud is to simply do good research before donating. Don’t give on the spot.”
A local woman recently pled guilty to running a charity scheme that fooled donors who thought they were helping a reputable charity that helps struggling women and children. According to the office of the Colorado Attorney General, Candace Jenkins was accused of producing and distributing fictitious business cards and promotional flyers with the name and logo of The Gathering Place. Jenkins falsely represented to victims that she was on the board of directors of the Gathering Place or that she was the “fundraising co-chair,” amongst many other misrepresentations.
The BBB recommends the following tips to remember in regards to charitable giving – to either the shooting victims or any other cause:
• Beware of charities that use names or similar sounding names of well-known and trusted organizations. This may be a deliberate attempt to confuse their scam with a legitimate organization or fundraiser. Always verify they are who they say they are.
• Do not give donations over the phone. You cannot easily verify who is on the other end. Either donate to the organization in person, by mail only sending to a verified and trusted address or on the charity’s secure and trusted website.
• Do not ever pay with cash (pay with check or credit card) and be wary of anyone that wants to send a courier or use an overnight delivery service to pick up your donation. Do not ever pay via wire transfer. Requests for wire transfers are always a huge red flag in any scam.
• Refuse high-pressure appeals. If the organization is legitimate, they’ll still need your donation tomorrow or whenever you are ready to give.
• Check out charities with the BBB. Charity reports can be found at www.denver.bbb.org or by calling (303) 758-2100. Note that individual/memorial funds will not have a BBB report as they are not subject to our standards because they are not organizations that can be reviewed.
• Do not donate money on the spot to someone who comes to your door or solicits in a public place. Check it out first, no matter who they say they are.
• Know that individual fundraisers are not subject to many of the IRS requirements, laws, rules, or standards that traditional charitable organizations are. This also means that donations are generally not tax deductible.
# # # #
About the BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews , BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 115 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit www.denver.bbb.org for more information.