Holiday scammers ready to take advantage of well-meaning donors
Memorial Day is an emotional time for many who want to honor the sacrifices made by America’s armed forces. Unfortunately, scammers know this, and some use this time of year to take advantage of well-meaning donors.
If you plan to donate this Memorial Day, BBB recommends keeping an eye out for lookalike scammers who adopt similar names and branding as trusted nonprofits to get donations. These misleading organizations often use highly emotional, urgent appeals. It’s a good idea to double check the exact name of the charity and verify the web address, email or phone number before you donate.
Trusted sources are the best starting point for charitable giving. BBB offers resources for donors to evaluate charitable organizations: At Give.org, donors can view a national list of BBB Accredited Charities focused on veterans and the military; at BBB.org, they can see evaluations of area nonprofits and find local Accredited Charities serving veterans.
BBB’s Accredited Charities meet a high expectation of trust and ethics and are evaluated on a set of 20 standards for governance, effectiveness and fundraising practices.
BBB’s tips for donating wisely:
- Make sure you know the exact name of the organization. Many veterans’ organizations have similar names, and some scammers will use similar names to impersonate a trusted organization. Double check the name of the nonprofit and their web address, email and/or phone number before giving any money.
- Protect your computer. If you receive an email asking you to donate online, go directly to the nonprofit’s web address and don’t click any links in the email. Make sure the website is secure (its web address should begin with https://) and that the web address is spelled correctly.
- Check for accreditation. Check BBB.org for a Charity Review or to see whether the organization is accredited.
- Check with your state government. In Missouri and Illinois, most charitable organizations must register with the Attorneys General.
- Beware of high-pressure appeals. Charitable organizations may make an extra push for donations around Memorial Day, but generally, they will be happy to accept your donation at your convenience. Beware of messages that pressure you to donate immediately. If you’re not sure about donating, wait.
- Know where your money is going. Don’t assume you know what the organization does based on name alone. Go to their website or call to see what programs they offer and how your money will be used.
- Donate directly. Give directly to the nonprofit rather than through a fundraising telemarketer or direct mail solicitation. This helps ensure that most of your contribution goes to the nonprofit.
- Ask before donating items. Many nonprofits are happy to receive donated clothing or other items, but for some, handling physical donations may just create more work. Call in advance to ask if the charity accepts donated items.
Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 209-3972.
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