The shocking news about Lakewood, Washington's fallen police officers has stirred sympathy and compassion in Americans across the nation. Violent crimes committed against law enforcement often trigger donation appeals for victims and their families. Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be wary of spurious charity solicitations and donation requests.
Consumers interested in lending a helping hand should proceed with caution: Con artists are quick to take advantage.
"Fundraisers may contact consumers pledging to support police officers and provide aid to the victims' families," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington. "Some are dishonest donation appeals attempting to make a quick buck by exploiting generosity."
BBB offers the following guidance to ensure that the donation goes to the cause:
- Don't be fooled by names or titles that sound legitimate. Don't be lured in by organization or donation center names that look impressive or that closely resemble names of well-known organizations. The word “police” in the name is not a guarantee that any member of the local force is involved.
- Ask questions. How will the organization use the donation funds? What programs or activities do they offer to benefit or aid victims? What percentage of contribution will go to the cause? Beware: Some funds may be going toward high fundraising expenses, such as written materials or telemarketing.
- Research the charity. Check with the appropriate state government authorities to verify the charity is registered to solicit in the state. See if the organization has a Web site and inspect it. Look up the charity on a search engine.
- Check with BBB. Before making a donation, check with your BBB Foundation at www.bbb.org. BBB's Charity Review Program allows you to view Charity Reports for free at www.bbb.org/charity.
- Go straight to the source. Consider contacting the affected city or county's government office or police department to find out if there is a preferred donation center.
To contribute to the victims' families in this tragedy, Lakewood Police Department asks donors to make donations to Lakewood Police Independent Guild: LPIG Benevolent Fund, PO Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499.
For more BBB Foundation tips on charitable giving, click here.
About BBB Foundation:
BBB Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating consumers on a variety of marketplace issues. BBB Foundation is an affiliate of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon & Western Washington.