9-11 charities continue to give to victims; be wise when you give

Today is the 12th anniversary of 9/11. In 2001, not long after the terrorist attacks, the IRS fast-tracked approval of more than 300 new charities related to the event. Together, they have raised more than  $2 billion and counting. Causes range from scholarships for the children of victims to memorial sites.

Unfortunately, along with the honorable charities came numerous scam artists intent on taking advantage of the public’s emotions. Many of those phony charities are still around, waiting to take advantage of your feelings to make a quick buck.

Some of the bad guys seem legitimate at first, seeking donations for firefighters, wives and children of victims, or additions to the 9/11 memorial. But there are some definite red flags that will help you avoid being taken by a charity scam.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) recommends you do your research when finding an organization to donate your money or time to.  BBB WGA produces reports on more than 1,200 nationally soliciting charitable organizations. Local Better Business Bureaus report on another 10,000 local and regional charities.

Before you take out your wallet, follow these tips from BBB and make sure your money goes where you want it to go:

  • Ask why the charity is collecting donations for 9/11. Doing so will alert you of their ongoing purpose.
  • Research the charity by looking up their website and any other online buzz surrounding the organization. Never click on links through an unsolicited email.
  • Request printed materials when receiving soliciting phone calls. If you receive a brochure or other collateral, fact check the organizations address, phone number and website before sending anything back in the mail.
  • Never give credit card or bank information over the phone or wire money to a charity. These are the two largest red flags of a charity scam.
  • Be cautious of bogus names that mimic legitimate organizations. Scammers often set up fake charities with names that sound similar to a recognizable organization.
  • If you are contacted by an organization or charity and solicited for a donation, keep an eye out for these warning signs of a scam:
  • They refuse provide detailed information (i.e. they cannot identify the organization and its mission, how the funds will be used, or provide proof the donation is tax deductible.) Real charities have all this information on hand and will gladly give it to you.
  • You are thanked for a donation you don’t remember making. This is a tactic to try to make you feel comfortable to give “again.” Keep track of your donations with receipts and never feel uncomfortable or obligated to give to a charity.
  • Sense of urgency. Many scam artists try to get you to donate quickly without giving you a chance to ask questions or verify their legitimacy. Always take your time, do your research, read the fine print and only donate if you feel comfortable.

– Watch Your Buck, a BBB blog

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1 Comment

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One response to “9-11 charities continue to give to victims; be wise when you give

  1. Mark Burrows

    I don’t mean to sound harsh. But from a psychological standpoint, you are doing no favors to the still living victims of 9-11. By now they would have gotten past their material needs, and there are plenty of government programs that will support their mental health needs as those are harder to repair. If they are still living on resources of charities, even legitimate ones, it is neither fair to their well being or yours. Yes, they may feel they deserve it, but neither you nor the charities created the situation, terrorists did, and they are not about to start sending money or apologies.
    Stick to charities that help everyone. When tragedy does hit close to home, contact your most favorite and reliable charity and ask what they need, whether it is blood, food, materials, or funding. Give only what you can spare because your needs come first. You are no good to anyone if you are not healthy of mind and body and live a manageable life.
    If a tornado or a hurricane ripped through your area and wiped out your home and you lost loved ones, would you still expect charities to be taking care of you 12 years later? NO! That would be wrong, you would probably struggle for a while with emotional drain, that is expected, but eventually you come out of it and start to put your life back together. It is okay to ask for help, but put pressure on local, state, and federal governments. Don’t let them wiggle away and let the charities do all the work with their limited resources and funds. The fact is government use charities as a scapegoat.
    For this reason, it is so easy to create scams using charity as a platform. The government doesn’t care because charities collect money and distribute it where they feel it is needed and the government thinks that their contribution of allowing you to deduct charity receipts from your income tax is big of them. Then if it is not a legitimate charity, then you have the IRS sniffing around accusing you of providing false receipts. Since it is a scam charity, it is not registered, and YOU provided the receipt which makes you an accomplice. American justice, another profit making enterprise. You get charged, you have to hire a lawyer, probably loose time from work, it gets stretched out in court. You probably win, but you still get stuck paying the lawyer and the court fees because you were defending yourself. Just the way it works.

    Mark Burrows

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