FTC Alerts Consumers Who Want to Help Colorado Movie Theater Shooting Victims

Tips for Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, has tips for anyone who may want to donate money to the victims and families of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.

One opportunity for giving, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, has been established by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and the Community First Foundation to meet immediate and long-term needs of victims and their families. Donations are being accepted through the Foundation's GivingFirst.org program, which describes how various nonprofit organizations are offering direct support to those affected.

Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren't entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution. It's wise to be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with current events, like the theater shooting.

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. The agency's Charity Checklist has tips for guidance on donating wisely. If you are asked to contribute to a charity, the FTC recommends that you:

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

For more information, visit ftc.gov/charityfraud.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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