Scam charities often use emotional appeals to target their victims, warns the Better Business Bureau.
This caution is especially relevant because many businesses are marketing pink ribbon products and services supporting breast cancer research and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
"The goal is for as much of the money to go to curing cancer, not in running an organization to make money for the operators," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.
"Consumers can ensure this by asking charities proper questions before donating and by doing a careful assessment of the charity."
This group is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services.
The BBB encourages consumers to look for companies that disclose a charity name, the amount of a sale going to the charity, the duration of marketing campaigns and, if applicable, the maximum or minimum contribution amount.
While many pink ribbon marketing campaigns are trustworthy, consumers can eliminate breast cancer awareness charity scams by doing the following:
• Research the charity with the BBB. If the product or service is in support of an unfamiliar charity, learn more about the organization by reviewing the BBB's charity report online at www.bbb.org/charity
• Identify the charity receiving the donation. If the product or service is linked to a donation percentage, contact the business or manufacturer to determine exactly where the money is going and what percentage is donated.
• Confirm the charity's corporate partners. Many national breast cancer charities list the names of corporate partners and sponsors on their websites.
• If you contribute, do not give cash. Use a credit card or check or money order made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
• Keep records of your donations. This includes receipts, canceled checks, and bank statement. Keeping these documents will allow you to document your charitable giving at tax time. Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not deductible, out-of-pocket expenses (including transportation costs) directly related to your volunteer service to a charity are deductible.
• Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs. Also, be careful of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity actually does.
For details on how to ensure your donation gets into the right hands, visit www.bbb.org.