Whenever a tragedy like the ordeal of the three women who were kidnapped and sexually assaulted for over a decade in Cleveland, Ohio receives national media attention, generous people want to help the victims financially.

Chelsea McGuire with the Better Business Bureau, Montana division, said Monday afternoon that people should be cautious before sending money to assist the victims.

"Scammers take advantage of that generous spirit," McGuire said on Monday afternoon. "There are some really unethical practices that people can be taken in by, so you want to be sure to make the best decision possible, and that your donation gets to the people who need it."

McGuire said the Better Business Bureau has advice for those who wish to contribute to the Ohio victims and their families.

"Ask questions about the organizations that are soliciting or collecting donations," McGuire said. "Are they an actual 501 C-3 charity? If they can prove their non-profit status, then your donations will be tax deductible."

McGuire said to also be wary of a tactic called "crowdfunding'.

"There are crowdfunding websites that pop up and say you can donate quickly and easily here, however, those donations are not tax-deductible, and there is no way to confirm that your gift will actually go to the victims," McGuire said. "It's also important to ask specifically how that money is going to get to the victims and their families."

McGuire said the Better Business Bureau and the Wise Giving Alliance have a special website just to help those who want to donate to charities, called give.org.

Chelsea McGuire, Better Business Bureau


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