Avoid Charity Fraud After Sandy and During Holidays

November 13, 2012

Denver, CO – November 13, 2012 – During the holiday season and in the aftermath of disasters is when charitable giving heightens around the country. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says an uptick in giving causes a trend in charity fraud as well, unfortunately.

“During the holidays, we are especially concerned about insincere emotional appeals—and in regards to Hurricane Sandy, we expect to see fly-by-night websites,” said Hope Marie Sneed, vice president of development and PR for the BBB of Denver/Boulder. According to Internet domain research site, DomainTools, over 1,000 Internet addresses related to Sandy have been registered since before the storm even hit.

In past holiday seasons, the BBB has locally investigated deceptive charitable operations that appeared to raise money for causes such as animal rescue and abused children. As the holiday season gets underway, the BBB urges donors to do their homework and avoid falling for pleas that are heavy on emotion and light on details.

The BBB also offers the five following tips to follow when donating to a charity:

  1. Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or even your friends on social media, as they might not have fully researched the organization. Visit denver.bbb.org/charity to research charities or call (303) 758-2100 for a report. The BBB reviews charities against 20 standards and its reports give the most in-depth information anywhere in an easy-to-read format.

  1. Be cautious when giving online. With today’s technology, a website can literally be built in an hour mimicking a legitimate charitable organization wanting to scam you out of your money. Make sure you trust the website before entering your credit card or bank account information.

  1. Don’t succumb to high-pressure emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. A charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.

  1. Avoid the middle-man. Some charities raise money to pass along to other organizations but the BBB says you may want to consider avoiding the middleman and give directly to the charity you’re interested in helping. Fraud is common amongst these kinds of organizations and when the allocation of funds is streamlined, it lessens the chance for unfair activity.

  1. Know the impact of your non-monetary donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing—while well intentioned—may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about its transportation and distribution plans.

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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, there are 114 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit www.denver.bbb.org for more information.