Many events are celebrated throughout the month of February. For example, President’s Day and Valentine’s Day fall in February. It’s also American Heart Month. In fact, people will be wearing red to help raise awareness for heart disease all month long. If you’re not careful, you could be caught in a scam when donating your time and/or money to support the cause. Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid making your blood boil from being scammed.
Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. about once every 42 seconds. It’s the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. and may have impacted many of us personally. Therefore, several events are held to fund research to put an end to the disease. Unfortunately, scammers exploit our generosity for their own gain.
Americans donate about $300 billion to charities each year. While the majority of the charities are legitimate, there’s always a danger of fraud. Charity fraud happens when someone is tricked into donating, only to find out he or she is making donations to bogus charities.
Before donating, the Better Business Bureau suggests these donating tips:
• Don’t give cash. Write a check to the charity, not the person collecting the donation. Never give your credit card number or other personal information in response to unexpected requests for donations.
• Watch for excessive pressure 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 at tax time.
• Be wary of any charity unwilling to answer questions about their operations, finances and other programs.
• Look at product labels carefully if making a charitable purchase. A reputable, trustworthy company should disclose a charity name and the amount of sale benefiting the charity.
• Consider checking out websites to help you understand any program involving charitable donations.
• Confirm the charity’s corporate partners. Many charities will list them on their websites.
• Check social media sites supporting the cause or charity.
• Watch out for bogus charities with names similar to legitimate charities.
Give back. Give smart. If you have questions regarding charities, get help from your BBB, such as a list of BBB-accredited charities, and reports on ones you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call 800-776-5301.
The writer is the president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Dayton.