This is horrifying: Scam artists may try to capitalize on the tragic mass shooting in Parkland Florida, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It's such a vulnerable and emotional time for so many people, so it's crucial that we take the BBB's advice as we decide which charities and fundraisers we should donate to and promote to our friends and families.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance has released a set of helpful tips to encourage potential donors to "give thoughtfully" in this time of great need — and avoid any campaigns taking advantage of unsuspecting folks who just want to help.
Tips to Avoid a Charity Scam
Do your research first. Don't give to any donation request without checking out what specific group is requesting your money. You can visit Give.org to check a charity's accountability if you haven't heard of the organization before.
Be mindful of crowdfunding sites' lack of vetting. Not all crowdfunding sites practice proper verification of people requesting money online. You might need to fact-check on Give.org or research an organization on your own to be sure it's actually connected to the tragedy in question.
Find out how the donations will be used after they come in. You want to be crystal-clear on how this charity will actually help families with its intended use of funds. If all you see is a vague appeal for money, that could be a red flag.
Avoid clicking on links to charities on unfamiliar websites. These links might end up taking you to scarily convincing lookalike websites where you could be encouraged to provide personal finance info — which could fall right into scammers' hands. You also risk downloading harmful malware onto your computer.
Check out the organization's financial transparency after tragic events. It's vitally important for organizations to make the info about how funds were spent after a tragedy readily available. Check how an organization spent its donated money after another less recent tragedy. A truly transparent organization will make this accounting available on its website so anyone can look at it.
For more advice on giving wisely after a tragedy like the one in Parkland, you can read more tips from BBB on its official website. Many tears have been shed over this terrible mass shooting, and the victims' families deserve all the help we can give them — and we deserve to know that our help is falling into the right hands.