On Your Side: Fraudulent charities

On Your Side: Fraudulent charities

Horrific tragedies like the Bible study massacre at a South Carolina church can unite communities in faith and hope, in prayers for the victims and their families. But it can also bring out others who would take advantage of people's generosity and desire to help the murdered shooting victims.

We've seen this happen before, an unfortunate reality that crooks posing as charities may try to take advantage of people who just want to help. There are good people out there soliciting donations for real purposes, the trick is to know the difference.

The unconscionable act of violence has the nation mourning after nine lives are snuffed out as people prayed and held bible study people inside South Carolina's Emanuel AME Church.

In the midst of sorrow, the caring want to help. Charleston's mayor announced the establishment of the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to help cover funeral costs. While that fund is legitimate, Better Business Bureaus are reminding people that scammers are already working. The Better Business Bureau's Tom Gallagher says, "Within the next day two days maybe even tonight there are going to be requests for funds to help the folks, the family of the people who are lost. Maybe even the church, to reconstruct the church. If they need money today, they're going to need it tomorrow. Every single time there's a disaster, whether it's an earthquake, whether its whole sale murder, there are people on the back end of that who are contacting the telephone so they can raise up a real emotional pitch and they'll do it online. If you sent it out to enough people, someone will respond."

Gallagher says move slowly in your giving. Know where your contribution is going and how it will get there and to check out the organization with the BBB and your state's consumer affairs division. A few minutes of research on the front end could save you financial loss. Gallagher adds, "South Carolina's State Department of Consumer Affairs or whoever the registering body is, go someplace where these folks have to register and make sure you take your time. Don't go fast and make your contributions. There are red flags that will certainly be a pitch that's long on emotion and short on detail. The biggest thing of all, don't get caught up in the emotional tide of these things."

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