WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – The Better Business Bureau is warning you to do your research before donating to online campaigns and fundraisers.
The Better Business Bureau warns you need to research before donating to online charities. (WSAW photo)
“Right now, with the state of the world, people are going to think with their hearts and not their heads,” said Lisa Schiller, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin BBB. “You want to make sure that those emotional appeals don’t make you make a donation without doing your proper checking.”
Online scammers are likely to use events in the news to try and trick people into donating to causes that are less than legitimate.
The BBB saw it with COVID-19, and Schiller warns that the same type of scams are possible with the Black Lives Matter and civil rights movements that so many are passionate about at this time.
“We are very aware that it could be an issue and there’s a very good chance that it will be an issue coming up down the road,” Schiller explained. “Scammers setting up websites that are fake but sound like a real charity. You can’t be tricked by a sound alike name.”
Schiller says it’s important to look past the company’s website and research their social media accounts as well as reviews from other people to verify authenticity.
“Google a name. See what people are saying online,” advised Schiller. “They can make a website look beautiful but what’s really behind it? Where is that money going?”
That’s something that can be more of a challenge with crowdfunding set ups, such as a GoFundMe page.
“Those are usually set up by individuals for individuals and there’s really no way to vet them,” Schiller said. “You have to really be careful. If you know the family or the individual, that’s one thing. If you don’t, you want to be careful giving your money. Also, social media. You want to be really careful when responding to any type of request through social media.”
The BBB offers a website where you can look up accredited charities and non-profits. It’s called give.org.
Schiller also encourages anyone who feels they may have been scammed to report that scam to the Scam Tracker located here on the BBB’s website.
Below is a list of soliciting charities throughout the United States that are accredited by the BBB and meet the organization’s 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.
Advocates for Children of New York
African Services Committee
Arab-American Family Support Center
Center for Constitutional Rights
Children’s Defense Fund
Chinese-American Planning Council
Equality Florida Institute
Human Rights Watch
Latino Justice PRLDF
Legal Action Center
Legal Aid Society
National Immigration Forum
National Urban League
Native American Frights Fund
Pro Bono Net
Sage Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
The Sikh Coalition
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
Zonta International Foundation
— to www.wsaw.com