Stuffed animals and a sign calling for prayer rest at the base of a tree near the Newtown VIllage Cemetery in Newtown, Conn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Six-year-old student Jack Pinto, who was killed Friday when a gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School, is scheduled to be buried at the cemetery Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Connecticut Better Business Bureau is alerting consumers to reports of phony charity solicitations, supposedly on behalf of the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown on Friday.
BBB recommends 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.
Connecticut BBB 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.
Confirm text code numbers: If you plan to donate by text message, confirm the text code number directly with the charity. Also, keep in mind that text message donations are typically not immediate. Depending on your cell phone provider, the donation may not show up on your bill for 30 to 90 days.
You may contribute to victims’ family funds through:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Banks
39 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470
The Newtown Rotary Club is also helping collect and distribute donations to victims' families at http://www.newtownctrotary.org.
You can check out a business or charity’s Better Business Bureau review at www.ct.bbb.org.