Help Wildfire Victims Without Getting Cheated

June 29, 2012

Denver, CO – June 19, 2012 – As wildfires continues to cause major damage in regions of Colorado, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns those wanting to help to beware of scams and give cautiously. History shows that the larger a disaster is, and the more media coverage it receives, the more likely it is for charity fraud to occur.

The National Center for Disaster Fraud was established in 2005 in response to fraud that took placed following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Following the tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011, some organizations were accused of fraud including one that claimed to help victims by selling t-shirts, facilitating benefit concerts and taking donations. The Missouri Attorney General charged that none of the money collected went to victims.

“One of the worst kinds of fraud is charity fraud, especially when it results from a devastating disaster,” said Dale Mingilton, president and CEO of the BBB Serving Denver/Boulder. “When we are emotional, we may be more trusting than usual but we urge donors to keep their guard up and check any organization out before donating.”

Phishing scams are ever-prevalent and it is very likely to see cyber criminals or even fraudulent telemarketers use fundraising claims as a way to lure victims. The BBB warns to beware of malicious links that may appear in emails or on social media sites and to never give financial information over the phone to someone unsolicited.

The BBB offers the following tips on how to give wisely and avoid charity fraud:

  • Check with your BBB before donating to see if a report exists on the charity you are interested in, (visit: or call 303.758.2100).
  • Before giving, ask for written information about a charity’s program and finances – especially if you are unfamiliar with the organization.
  • Don’t bend to pressure to give money immediately. A charity that wants your money today also will welcome it at a later date.
  • Avoid the “middle-man” – organizations who claim to raise money for other charities. These tend to be problematic and it’s best to donate directly the charity directly.
  • Make sure a charity’s website has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal information.
  • If you’re considering texting your gift, verify with the charity (perhaps through its website) that the number you’ve been given by friends or online social networks is correct. You may want to text a small donation and then go online to the site to give more. Also be aware that a texted donation may take longer to reach the charity.
  • If you see posts or messages on social media about raising money for a well-known organization that includes a link, don’t click through. It could contain an information-stealing virus or take you to a fraudulent website. Instead, go to the organization’s site directly.

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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, over 100 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.