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Better Business Bureau: Watch For Ebola Scams

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Word is going out from the Better Business Bureau, about a variety of Ebola related scams and problematic fundraisers recently emerging.

The BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance is working with chapters serving Dallas, where the first victim died and two nurses became infected; in Cleveland, where one of the nurses traveled before getting sick; and with several other local BBBs to investigate Ebola-related efforts.

Danielle Rudd with the BBB’s Northwest Florida office in Pensacola says one of the suspected scams involved an online fundraiser for Amber Joy Vinson – one of the Dallas nurses who is now being treated in Atlanta.

“There is a GoFundMe page that was created to raise donations,” said Rudd. “When one of the BBBs did some investigation. Even though the site may have been created with great intention, family members did not authorize that effort. They were not aware of that GoFundMe page until the BBB brought it to their attention.”

That page has since been shut down, but the BBB estimates there are still more than one hundred GoFundMe pages raising money for various Ebola campaigns, along with several telephone solicitations.

Rudd says before you hand over your money, make sure of their tax status. Some groups who claim to have 501C3 tax-exempt status actually do not. And always check when an organizations makes a solicitation just after an event, such as Ebol, that gains media attention.

Other BBB tips: confirm that the group is actually a charity; be especially careful after a disaster or tragedy, when con artists strike while the emotional iron is hot. And be sure to give to groups and individuals you already know.

“You want to make sure that these organizations have a track record, and that you know how they use their money,” Rudd says. “Read the fine print. You want to make sure you understand everything.”

And Rudd says be careful about groups that which may use names that closely resembles a familiar-sounding organization. More information and assistance on charitable giving issues can be found, once again, at the BBB Wise Giving Alliance website -- give.org.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.