CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning regarding opportunists representing scam charities soliciting donations for the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
The Charlotte BBB shared this photo of a fake Boston Marathon Charity with NBC Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon:
The tweet got more than 50,000 retweets before the account was suspended.
NBC Charlotte is looking out for you with ways you can help support the cause.
First, the Mayor's office in Boston has set up a hotline for families of the victims: (617) 635-4500.
Any witnesses who may have information to share with police should contact the Boston Police Department Tip Line at (800) 494-8477.
Searching for loved ones
The Red Cross has a similar service called Safe and Well, where people in the area can list themselves as safe and well. The site also offers a search function to those who've registered with the Red Cross. A successful search will show the the registrants' name and a brief message.
A Google Doc lists thousands of locations offering temporary lodging to those who may be stranded in Boston following the terrorist attack. Those willing to offer up a place to stay can also list their contact information here.
Boston-based TUGG (Technology Underwriting Greater Good) has set up a fund on Fundraise.com that will benefit programs working with victims of the attack. The page also promises to update those who donate as to how and where exactly the funds go and of its impact.
The RYOT Foundation has started a Boston Marathon Victims Fund, which supports victims and their families.
If you'd like to donate to a better-known charity, you may choose to support the Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services. According to their website, the Salvation Army is providing support to survivors and first responders.
If you'd prefer to donate to a secular organization, check out the Atheists Giving Fund, as they've started a Boston Marathon Tragedy campaign. The group promises to give money to victims and their families without passing through "any religious affiliated organizations."
The Red Cross says they've sent about 450 additional units of blood, platelets and plasma to Boston-area hospitals. If you're unable to donate in the form of cash, there's always another option: give blood. Learn more here.
BBB: 10 Tips for Giving with Confidence
1. Thoughtful Giving -- take time to check out the charity before donating
2. Help Spread the Wise Giving Word - remind your family and friends to be cautious of giving requests in the wake of such a tragedy
3. State Government Registration - about 40 of the 50 states require charities to register with a state government agency
4. Respecting Victims and Their Families - organizations raising funds should get permission from the families to use either the names of the victims and/or any photographs of them. Some charities raising funds for the Colorado movie theater and Newton school victims did not do this and were the subject of criticism from victims’ families.
5. How will Donations be Used? - Watch out for vague appeals that don't identify the intended use of funds.
6. What if a Family Sets Up its Own Assistance Fund? - some families may decide to set up their own assistance funds. Be mindful that such funds may not be set up as charities. Also, make sure that collected monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA or lawyer.
7. Online Cautions - Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails.
8. Financial Transparency - After funds are raised for a tragedy, transparent organizations will publicly post information on how donated funds were spent.
9. Newly Created or Established Organizations - This is a personal choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated.
10. Tax Deductibility - Not all organizations collecting funds to assist this tragedy are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors can support these other entities but keep this in mind if they want to take a deduction for federal income tax purposes. In addition, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual/family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.