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Business Expert Explains How To Avoid Charity Scams

Evening Edition

Above: All year round we are inundated with requests for money from all kinds of charities, some with names and missions that are familiar: like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Cancer Society, Food Bank, or Greenpeace. Sheryl Bilbrey, CEO of the San Diego Better Business Bureau, tells KPBS Evening Edition tips for avoiding charity scams.

Aired 11/23/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUEST

Sheryl Bilbrey, President and CEO, Better Business Bureau San Diego

Transcript

All year round we are inundated with requests for money from all kinds of charities, some with names and missions that are familiar: like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Cancer Society, Food Bank, or Greenpeace.

But there are others that sound slightly familiar, but aren't, the Cancer Association, for instance, or The Give-A-Wish Foundation, or the Deputy Sheriffs Support Group. We wonder -- who are these guys, anyway, and are they on the up-and-up?

Furthermore, every grocery-shopping trip these days has somehow morphed into yet-another "opportunity" for us to donate by "rounding up" our tab at Vons to give thirty-two cents to the cause-of-the-month: breast cancer, prostate cancer, muscular dystrophy, whatever.

Ever wonder what happens to that money?

Turns out that the Better Business Bureau has some answers to these questions as well as some tips that might allow you to avoid them in the first place.

The BBB not only rates charities for governance, effectiveness, finances and fund-raising materials, but posts the results of its extensive questionnaire to charities on its website for all to see.

Charities don't get a grade, rather they are either accredited or not accredited. The BBB doesn't evaluate all charities, just ones consumers have inquired about.

Sheryl Bilbrey, CEO of the San Diego BBB, offers these tips for avoiding charity scams:

  • Choose your charity; don't let the charity choose you.
  • Beware of lookalike charities
  • Beware of "contribution collectors" (who come to your door)
  • Don't get pressured
  • Be a skeptic
  • Don't react emotionally

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