NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission have a warning about charity scams.

“Whether it’s the tornadoes, whether it’s COVID-19 or the upcoming holidays, consumers are more likely to want to support charities,” Robyn Householder, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Middle TN and Southern KY, said. 

Especially here in Tennessee where we pride ourselves on being the Volunteer State, but our passion to give, the BBB says, leaves us vulnerable.

“It was so very sad for us, because literally within hours of the tornadoes in March, we had over 200 bogus charities pop us. So, they’re going to seize the moment of whatever is happening around us,” Householder said.

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission announced that they have joined four states to shut down a charity funding operation that “bilked millions from consumers.”

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/09/spot-and-stop-dishonest-charity-fundraisers?utm_source=govdelivery

It was an organization called “outreach calling.” And so, consumers are getting calls saying that they’re raising funds to send care packages to Vietnam Vets--that can’t get out of the house now because of COVID-19.

Or it’s recovering Breast Cancer victims who also would be at risk because they left their home. What we found in this scam or what the FTC tells us is that less than 90 percent of the funds that were donated ever saw the charity,” Householder said.

Householder says consumers need to know who they’re donating to.

“Instead of giving to a solicitation, the best thing consumers can do is reach out to organizations they’re passionate about directly,” Householder said.

Also, don’t respond to solicitations. Hit them hard with specific questions.

“What is the name of the company? Make sure they clarify that charity. What is the address, the phone number? A legitimate organization will wait for your money, they're not going to force you to donate in the moment,” Householder said.

Also, be wary of donating to organizations outside of your own community.

“One of these things that these bogus charities do is they call themselves a name that sounds very familiar. So for instance, instead of the American Cancer Society, they call themselves the Cancer Society of America. They will manipulate names and organizations to make you feel like it’s a trusted charity when it isn't,” Householder said.

Householder also says there are plenty of websites that do the homework for you, such as Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Page. Be sure to check out those websites to know if the suspicious charity is operating ethically.

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