Officials Warn Donors To Beware Of Charity Fraud

Donations Being Taken By Groups, Individuals

The Federal Trade Commission and a Colorado District Attorney's Office are telling people to beware of charity fraud when donating money to support Aurora shooting victims.

"People are particularly vulnerable right now and want desperately to do something to help," said First Judicial District Attorney Scott Storey. "But as eager as people are to help, we urge them to take a little time to be sure they know where their donation is going."

The Colorado Organization of Victim Assistance (COVA) is coordinating donations for victims of the Aurora mass tragedy. Checks can be made out to COVA and mailed to 90 Galapago Street, Denver CO, 80223. Please include "Aurora Tragedy" in the check memo line. You can also donate online through COVA’s Giving First profile at https://www.givingfirst.org/cova Link.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and the Community First Foundation have established a fund called the Aurora Victim Relief Fund. Money donated to that fund will be given to nonprofits helping the victims.

"The money would not go to cutting a check to family members," said Marla Williams, president and CEO of the Community First Foundation. "It would be helping by giving grants to organizations that are helping the families cope financially and emotionally in so many ways."

Donations can be made by visiting http://www.GivingFirst.org Link. For more information contact Karla Maraccinni at 313-866-3700 or karla.maraccini@state.co.us.

Before giving money to any charity, Storey said you should make certain the organization is legitimate and learn as much about them as you can.

You can begin by contacting the Secretary of State, 303-894-2214, or its website http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/charities/charitableHome.html Link to determine if the company is registered as required by Colorado State Law.

Next, contact the Better Business Bureau to obtain a reliability report at 303-758-2100 or http://www.denver.bbb.org Link

The FTC said if you donate to a charitable group, ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax deductible.

If you give to a charity or individual, it's best to pay by check, making it payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.