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Consumer Warning: BBB Warns of Fake Boston Marathon Charities

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

 

The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI and VT (BBB) cautions consumers of illegitimate charities and scams surrounding the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. The 2014 Boston Marathon will take place on April 21, and will be the 118th running with over 36,000 participants.

BBB urges donors to do their research before falling victim to fake fundraisers and charities.

One charity consumers can be sure to trust is the One Fund. The One Fund Boston was formed on April 16, 2013 to help those most affected by the Marathon bombings. One Fund Boston is a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) and contributions are tax-deductible. The Boston Athletic Association also offers an official list of their participating charities for the 2014 marathon on their website.

“With the one-year anniversary of the marathon bombings, scammers are looking to take advantage of donors,” said Paula Fleming, vice president of the local BBB. “We want to remind consumers to be extra careful with their money and to make sure their donation is going to an actual charity.”

BBB offers the following tips to avoid fake charities and fundraisers:

Thoughtful Giving. Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. Be proactive and find trusted charities that are providing assistance.

State Government Registration. About 40 of the 50 states require charities to register with a state government agency before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.

Respecting Victims and Their Families. Organizations raising funds should get permission from the families to use either their names and/or photographs of them. Some charities for the Colorado movie theatre and Newtown school victims did not do this and were the subject of criticism from victims’ families.

How Will Donations Be Used? Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. How will donations help victims’ families? Make sure the charity identifies when the collected funds will be used.

Online Cautions. Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware to your computer.

Financial Transparency. After funds are raised, it is even more important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their website so anyone can find out and not have to wait until the audited financial statements are available in the future.

Tax Deductibility. Not all organizations collecting funds 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 for federal income tax purposes. 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.
 

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Big Companies with Recent Major Security Breaches

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Epsilon

March 2011

Tens of millions affected

In March 2011, Epsilon, the world's largest permission-based email marketing service, announced that the names and email addresses of customers of Citigroup, TiVo, and many other U.S. companies, were exposed in a huge data breach. The hack affected names and email addresses stored in over 108 retail stores, major financial firms and non-profit organizations like College Board. At the time of the incident, Epsilon had more than 2,500 clients sending 40 billion emails annually.

Result: Epsilon notified clients of the breach on April 1. Epsilon's clients then notified their customers of the hack. Epsilon has stated that 50 clients were affected, but the exact number of names and email addresses has not been released. Computerworld.com estimated that "tens of millions" of people were affected.

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Sony

April 2011

77 million customers affected

In the spring of 2011, Sony was hacked through its through its PlayStation Network twice. The first security breach exposed customers' personal information to hackers, but not their credit card information. The second hack, disclosed in late April, did result in customers' credit card information being stolen. The pair of hacks affected 77 million people.

Result: Two weeks after the breach, Sony released a PlayStation 3 firmware update as a security patch. The firmware required users to change their password.

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Global Payment Systems

March 2012

7 million customers affected

In the spring of 2012, the credit card processor service Global Payment Systems discovered that 1.5 million credit card records had been stolen from its system. Additionally, roughly 5.5 million consumer records were compromised, bringing the total to 7 million.

Result: As a result of the breach, Global Payments was delisted until it could prove it was in compliance with security standards. In April 2013, the payment card networks returned Global Payments its client list after it proved it was compliant with security standards.

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Zappos

January 2012

24 million customers affected

In early 2012, the online retail store Zappos announced that it had been hacked, exposing the names, addresses, phone numbers, partial credit card numbers, and email addresses of 24 million customers.

Result: One day following the cyberattack, Zappos sent emails to all customers directing them to change their passwords.

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Adobe Systems

October 2013

152 million customers affected

In October, the computer software company Adobe disclosed that hackers obtained personal data for almost 38 million of its customers, including names, credit and debit card numbers, and expiration dates. In November, it was discovered that the hackers had posted the personal data of more than 150 million Adobe users.

Adobe Call Center: 1-800-833-6687

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

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Target

December 2013

110 million customers affected

In December, Target announced that 40 million customer accounts were hacked stealing encrypted PIN numbers, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates, and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on the back of cars. Additionally, 70 million customers' personal information was compromised.

Target Call Center: 1-800-440-0680  

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

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Neiman Marcus

January 2014

1.1 million customers affected

In January, high-end retailer Neiman Marcus revealed more than 1.1 million customers were affected in hack. Between July 2013 and October 2013, customer payment cards could have been potentially visible to hackers. Additionally, 2,400 unique customer payment cards used at Neiman Marcus stores were subsequently used fraudulently.

Neiman Marcus Call Center: 1-888-888-4757

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

Prev Next

Yahoo

January 2014

Up to 81 million U.S. users

Late last month, Yahoo disclosed that Yahoo's email customers may have had their passwords compromised through a third-party application. The web company recently identified a coordinated effort to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo Mail accounts, and notified RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. Upon discovery, the Company took action, urging users to reset passwords on impacted accounts.

Yahoo Call Center: 1-800-318-0612

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michaels Stores

January 2014

Number of affected customers yet to be determined

In January, Michaels Stores announced that it is investigating a possible data security breach that may have led to customers' debit and credit card information being compromised. Michaels has more than 1,250 locations in the United States, including four in Rhode Island.

Michaels Stores Call Center: 1-800-642-4235

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

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White Lodging - Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Westin

February 2014

Number of affected customers yet to be determined



This week, the hospitality company White Lodging Services announced that a data breach occurred at 14 of its properties including Marriott, Radisson, Renaissance, Sheraton, Westin and Holiday Inn franchises around the country. Compromised information may have included names printed on credit or debit cards, the actual numbers, the security codes and expiration dates.



White Lodging Call Center: 219-472-2900.

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.

 
 

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