FTC Warns Against Scammers Trying To Cash In On Aurora Theater Shooting

It’s been a week since a dozen people were killed and 58 others were injured at a late-night showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Co., and folks from around the world have been looking to donate money to help those affected by the tragedy. But before you hand over any cash, be sure it’s a legitimate charity.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers to be careful and not donate money to bogus charities or groups that are not honest about where donated funds go.

“It’s wise to be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with current events, like the theater shooting,” writes the FTC. “Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up.”

Thus, the FTC has the following Charity Checklist that guides consumers through the questions they need to ask when considering a donation to any group:

1. Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly;
2. Ask what percentage of your donation will support the cause described in the solicitation;
3. Verify that the charity has authorized the solicitation;
4. Do not provide any credit card or bank information until you have reviewed all information from the charity and made the decision to donate;
5. Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax deductible; and
6. Avoid cash gifts. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check – made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.

The agency has more information at ftc.gov/charityfraud.

For those looking for a legitimate charity, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Community First Foundation have set up the Aurora Victim Relief Fund to meet immediate and long-term needs of victims and their families. GivingFirst.org provides details on this and other bona fide, related charities.