This is a consumer advice column written by the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. It appears Thursdays in Business.
Better Business Bureau is alerting consumers to reports of phony charity solicitations, supposedly on behalf of the families of 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting Friday in Newtown, Conn.
BBB recommends that donors avoid giving to charities or funds through unsolicited phone calls, emails, texts or social media appeals.
Charity scammers strike after natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, as well as tragedies such as the Colorado theater shootings and now the Newtown school massacre.
BBB serving northern Indiana urges donors to:
•Do your homework: Always research a charity at the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance website, www.give.org
Before donating money.
•Select a charity yourself: Charity cheats will use every method at their disposal to reach out to generous Americans in times of tragedy. However, rather than replying to a charity appeal, BBB recommends choosing a well-known charity or one that has been endorsed by local or state authorities in the aftermath of a tragedy.
•Contact charities directly: Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide financial information, or download harmful malware into your computer.
Donors may contribute to a victims' family fund through a collaborative effort between the United Way and Newtown Savings Bank.
Donations may be sent to: Sandy Hook School Support Fund, C/O Newtown Savings Banks, 39 Main St., Newtown, CT 06470.