EL PASO — The horrific massacre of 20 children and seven adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last Friday has prompted an outpouring of sympathy - and the potential for scammers to prey on those who would like to help, the Better Business Bureau said.
The BBB offered tips to help donors evaluate charities that may be able to provide aid to grieving families and support for the Newtown community as they move toward recovery from the shooting.
The BBB encourages donors to look for the BBB Accredited Charity seal on a charity's website or other literature. If the seal is there, donors can be assured that the charity complies with the BBB's 20 Standards of Charity Accountability. If it doesn't have the seal, look for the charity's BBB Charity Review at elpaso.bbb.org/charity.
Donors also should be suspicious of unsolicited emails, text messages or phone calls that ask for donations related to the shooting or another specific event, such as a hurricane or earthquake. Don't click on links in emails unless you are able to verify that it comes from a legitimate charity.
The BBB has tips that can help you make sure your donation will be used appropriately:
· If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
· Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
· When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization's website.
· Before donating used items make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.