Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

October 10, 2013

Be wary of breast cancer product sales, charity scams

                                                                            © Shutterstock

Generous donors are especially inclined to support related charities during the October observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But an online consumer advocacy group warns that unscrupulous agencies step up breast cancer charity scams during the month and thereafter.

“Sadly, there are organizations that take advantage of the good will of the public, especially during times of heightened awareness like Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” says Scambook’s Director of Marketing Kase Chong.

Scambook offers the following tips to help consumers avoid fraudulent breast cancer charities and related scams:
  1. Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  2. Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  3. Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  4. Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  5. Make direct contributions to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf. A non-exhaustive list of reputable breast cancer organizations can be found on Charity Navigator, which rates the credibility of charities.  
  6. Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  7. Verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of an organization by using various Internet-based resources, which can also assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization. GuideStar is a free resource that allows users to peruse nonprofits’ tax returns to see exactly how allocate money.
  8. Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions, as providing such information may compromise your identity and make identity theft possible.
Scambook recommends that when consumers decide to purchase a product to support breast cancer research, rather than donate directly to a charity, to make sure to read the fine print. Many companies can put a cap on how much of the proceeds of a product will actually be donated. They may also design a special edition product using a cause's signature color – in this case pink – without donating any sale proceeds to the cause itself.
Many take part in charity dinners, galas, and walks, however these have huge overhead costs. For those looking to make the largest impact possible, donating directly to a reputable breast cancer charity is the best option.

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