Business Bulletin: BBB says don't get scammed when giving to charities

Business Bulletin: BBB says don't get scammed when giving to charities

October 4th, 2013 Jim Winsett in Business Diary

Jim Winsett

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Q. I would like to make a donation to breast cancer research and see that stores offer a variety of products to promote and help the cause. If I buy an item, does all my money go to the charity?

A. October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Many Americans embrace this cause by purchasing pink-ribbon products and services to support a cure for breast cancer. Your Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid being scammed.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, second to lung cancer. With more than 232,000 new cases of breast cancer each year, one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetime. Although, studies show the number of cases is dropping because of early detection and treatment.

Over the last year, over a half million inquiries were made to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and

BBB's across the U.S. and Canada about charities. However, when donating to charity, people need to be aware of where their money is going. Your Better Business Bureau offers these tips to protect yourself from a charity scam:

• Never give cash. Write a check to the charity, not an individual. Never give your credit card number or other personal information in response to unsolicited donation requests.

• Beware of high-pressure requests for on-the-spot donations and appeals long on emotion, but short on describing what a charity does.

• Keep records of your donations with receipts, canceled checks and bank statements to document your giving for taxes.

• Think twice if a charity is unwilling to answer questions about their operations, finances and programs.

• Read product labels carefully. A trustworthy company should disclose a charity name and the amount of sale benefiting the charity. Usually, a percentage of the purchase price eventually makes it to the charity and not the whole amount you paid for the product.

• Checking online could help you better understand any program involving charitable donations, www.give.org.

• Confirm the charity's corporate partners, which will typically be listed on charities' Web sites.

Remember, if you receive solicitations for donations; be cautious of people claiming to represent national breast cancer charities. According to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization (NBCAM), the group doesn't solicit contributions and hasn't authorized the use of its name for solicitation purposes. Contact charities directly to confirm solicitations.

If you have any questions regarding charities, get help from your BBB, such as a list of BBB Accredited charities and reviews on ones you're considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call 423-266-0396.

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Chattanooga.