Where Are Your Breast Cancer Donations Going? Beware of "Pinkwashing" Scams

October 10, 2016

October 2016 (SAN DIEGO, CA)
– Better Business Bureau serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties reminds consumers to think before they purchase “pink” this October.

As part of “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” businesses are manufacturing products and generating services to help the fight to end breast cancer.  Because consumers are buying pink and donating to breast cancer charity groups, other individuals have seen this as an opportunity to scam consumers for their heartfelt contributions.

The pink ribbon, representative of breast cancer awareness, is not government-regulated. This may result in “pinkwashing,” a practice where companies may feature the pink ribbon, on any product or service, with the intention of scamming U.S. consumers.  In order to assure donations go to the right place, BBB is warning consumers to research pink claims before giving.

Be Proactive. Research.

  • Products may have a pink ribbon as a mere indication that the company supports breast cancer programs, regardless of whether or not the purchase of the product itself is tied to the company’s contributions.
  • A percentage of a product sale may support breast cancer organizations and programs, but companies may also have a maximum donation “cap.” This means that once that amount has been met, companies may continue selling pink ribbon products without alerting the consumers that no additional funds will be donated.
  • Companies may sell pink products that contain chemicals linked to breast cancer. It is important that companies supporting breast cancer awareness protect the public from toxins. 
  • Charity phone calls and emails requesting donations should be meticulously inspected.  Callers may outright ask for you to give and emails may contain malware to hijack computers for personal information.  It is crucial that you research the company name and background before agreeing to donate.

BBB Suggested Questions:

  • Does any percentage from my purchase go to support breast cancer organizations or programs?
  • What organization will get the money?  How do they receive it?
  • Does your company have a “cap” on the amount of money they will donate? Has this maximum already been met?
  • Does this product contain toxins that increase the risk of breast cancer?
  • Where can I find more information about your pink donation program?

BBB encourages consumers to continue supporting causes they are passionate about using wise approaches.  It would like consumers to conduct their research and find reputable organizations and charities that support what they believe in. BBB recommends checking BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance and visiting the website at give.org for more information.


Better Business Bureau of San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties opened in 1921.  The non-profit is San Diego’s largest countrywide business membership organization with over 7,000 accredited businesses and charities. BBB offers free pre-purchase information and advice to consumers.  Its website possesses business reviews on more than 94,000 local companies. Consumers are encouraged to call BBB’s 24-Hour Consumer Helpline at 858-496-2131 or visit the website at bbb.org for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses or to file a complaint against a business.