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Better Business Bureau Offers Fraud Reminder

BBB says not all charities are legitimate, so be careful as 9/11 anniversary approaches.

The anniversary of the terroroist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, is quickly approaching, envoking painful memories and for some, the urge to give back. But the Better Business Bureau wants to remind donors to keep a watchful eye out as scammers may try to take advantage of those willing to help out.

In a press release issued Thursday, the BBB took a look at a recent Associated Press investigation which found that many 9/11 charities “failed miserably” in serving victims, their families and their memories, while continuing to collect donations. This past week, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs warned that a scammer was calling residents in Northeast Wisconsin fraudulently soliciting donations for a veterans’ clinic in Green Bay.

More from the release:

“Unfortunately, there are good charities and bad charities, and some that call themselves charities that are flat-out scams,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. “We want people to give with their heart, but use their heads.”

The Wisconsin BBB has seen an increase this past week in requests for BBB reviews of charities that claim to help 9/11 causes. The BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance reviews charities, much like a BBB Business Review, and lets donors know whether or not the charity meets WGA’s 20 standards for charitable accountability, which address issues such as governance, effectiveness, finances and charitable solicitations.

Before giving to a charity, the Wisconsin BBB warns consumers to: 

  • Ask questions about why the charity still needs to collect 9/11 related money. What ongoing purposes are they serving that flow from the events of 9/11?  You can request written details from the charity about what it does with the donations.
  • Check out the charity before donating at www.bbb.org.
  • Always donate using a check. Requests for cash-only, wire transfer or donations picked up by a courier should be seen as a red flag.
  • Don’t give over the phone or by clicking on a link inside an emailed solicitation. Either donate to the organization in person, by mail only sending to a verified and trusted address or on the charity’s secure and trusted Website.
  • Beware of charities that use names or similar sounding names of well-known organizations. Scammers will try to confuse you by using names of trusted organizations.
  • Refuse high-pressure appeals. If the organization is legitimate, it can wait for your donation until after you’ve had a chance to full research it.
  • Check with the IRS at www.irs.gov/app/pub-78/  to verify the organization’s tax exempt status, and make sure the organization has all proper registration and licensing. In Wisconsin, charities must be regulated through the state’s Department of Regulation & Licensing and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office.

For more information or further inquiries, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000.

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