With recent events in Ferguson dominating the headlines, there are opportunities to help by donating to charitable organizations. However, it can be a challenge to determine if they are a legitimate charity or how they will use those donations.

How can you tell if you are the target of a charity scam?

-The charity refuses to provide written information, including their name, address and telephone number.
-Uses a name that closely resembles a better known, reputable organization.
-Thanks a potential donor for a pledge they don't remember making in the past, hoping to trick you into making a donation on the spot.
-Uses high pressure sales tactics, including asking for credit card or banking information on the phone before an individual has the chance to research the charity or ask questions.
- Ask for donations in cash, relying on the expectation that most will not question their efforts.

What are some precautions to take to ensure your money is well spent?

-Research before you give. Visit the BBB website or a site such as Charity Navigator. Find out who wants your money and how they plan to use it.
-Look for charities that spring up overnight. Try and donate to recognized charities with a history. Some may lack the knowledge, personnel or infrastructure to provide assistance.
-Be cautious of online appeals. Delete unsolicited emails. Research charities that make their appeals on social media. Make sure you donate on a secure website that includes a privacy policy.
-Give by check or credit card. Strictly for security and for tax purposes.
-Know the difference between tax exempt and tax deductible. Tax exempt means an organization doesn't pay taxes. Tax deductible means you may be able to deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return.

The BBB encourages people to give, but give wisely and do your homework.

Contact the Mid Missouri BBB at 573-886-8965 or manager@midmobbb.org with any questions.