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HS 195 – Avoid Fraud when Donating with Art Taylor

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H. Art Taylor is President and CEO of Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. He joins the show to tell us how people can avoid fraud after a natural disaster or crisis occurs. He also gives us some examples of fraud that occurred as a result of the Philippines typhoon relief efforts. He explains how people can check with the BBB to help avoid questionable fundraising efforts.

Taylor shares some easy to spot trends and tactics that scammers use to prey on consumers. He believes there is more fraudulent activity around/during the holidays?

Visit the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.

Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people places and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.

Start of Interview with Art Taylor

Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Art Taylor to the show. He is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau’s wise giving alliance. And we are going to talk about how to avoid fraud in your giving and to make sure that what you do really goes to the cause. Art welcome. How are you?

Art Taylor: I am great, and thank you for having me on the show today.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, well the pleasure is all mine. So after every natural disaster or disaster of any kind there’s all kinds of con artists and scammers that come out of the wood work, and they take advantage of people and they just run off with the money. What can we do to avoid supporting these kinds of crooks?

Art Taylor: Sure. First of all, let me just say that is despicable behavior that is exercised almost every disaster by individuals who have no scruples. But what they really know is that during times of disasters and even during the holiday giving season, people’s hearts are open. They want to try to help solve problems that persist in our communities, and sometimes the only way they feel they can help is by making a cash contribution.

And this is one of the wonderful things about our country – people come to the assistance of others in need. But you have to be careful. One of the ways that you can protect yourself and the organizations that really do need your money from this type of behavior, is by planning your gifts in advance. We would encourage every family to think about the causes that mean something to them, and then giving to those causes.
So for instance, health might be an area that people are concerned about, the arts, education, animals welfare, environment hunger, or it could be disaster relief as you’ve mentioned. And then go to a website like ours and find charities that are doing work in those areas. Our website is give.org where we have actually vetted charities in relation to 20 stringent standards. We’ve done all the work for you so that when you choose those charities, you know that you can trust that your money is going to be used wisely.

And we would also encourage people to budget their contributions for the year, so that you have some idea of what you want to spend and therefor don’t feel pressured to give when every single solicitation comes to you and seeks your support. So by budgeting and planning ahead, you can eliminate a lot of the guilt that you feel when you don’t find certain organizations. And by planning ahead of course you can choose charities proactively that are accredited and worthy of your support.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, good points. Well, tell us a little bit about how you vet these charities. Have you guys ever been scammed or fooled before? It probably happens to the best of us, right?

Art Taylor: We haven’t been scammed ourselves, but we’ve come across organizations that are in really bad shape and they’re out there soliciting people. And yes, in fact we’ve come across a few that have been out and out frauds over the years. And so what we do is we look at a number of factors including how is the organization governed? Does it have a real board of directors that is volunteering? It’s time to make sure that the operation is given proper oversight. Are they looking at the organization’s budget? Are they reviewing the contracts with outside fundraisers that the organization is entering into? Are they evaluating the performance of the CEO? Are they free of conflicts of interest? Things like that, that would go to good practices that a volunteer board should have.

Then we look at whether they are truthful in the information that they’re putting out. So most people will only know what they get in the solicitation about a charity. So if that information is false or misleading, you’re going to be giving to a charity for the wrong reasons. So we read those solicitations and make sure that they are in fact truthful, and our standards call for charities to make sure that their information is not misleading people.

We also look at the charities’ finances. And this is an important area to many people to make sure that a charity of an appropriate size is getting audited, to make sure that the appropriate information is included in the audit reports, and to be sure that all of the information that the charity’s putting out relative to the amount spent on programs, fundraising and administration is accurate.

And we also seek to make sure that the charities are dealing with their donors properly. That is, if a donor asks to be removed from the charity’s mailing list, are they doing that? If a donor says they don’t want their names to be sold to another charity, are they taking that information seriously? And of course is there are any complaints? We want to make sure that the charity is dealing with those complaints. We want to make sure that the charity is assessing its effectiveness. That is the extent to which it’s actually achieving its mission.

So all of this work is important, and we do it and we’re very happy to do it. People come to our website, get this information free of charge. And the reports we have on our site are very easy to read and interoperate. You can get a quick scan of our opinion about a charity very quickly when you pull it up on our website.

Jason Hartman: Tell us about some of the scams that happened in the wake of the Philippines disaster. Well I guess not happened, happening I guess I should say.

Art Taylor: Well some of the things you need to be concerned about is when you see organizations that spring up overnight that say they want to deal with the problems in the Philippines or anywhere else, you need to be concerned. Because frankly, how can a newly created organization that sprung up overnight deal with such a disaster? Sometimes it’s just a matter of us keeping our wits about us.

Other things we see is that sometimes charities are just raising money to support a disaster but don’t really tell us exactly how they’re going to deliver support. And in a disaster there’s the immediate phase, which is usually rescue and recovery. And then there’s a phase that goes into rebuilding. What phase are you involved in and how specifically are you delivering support? People need to know this before they give their money.

So some of these practices, new websites that spring up that say that they’re going to assist with the disaster relief, and sometimes they’ll have names that sound like other organizations. Be very careful of those. Sometimes they’re not even real organizations behind the website. So again, people just have to keep their wits about them, keep their hearts open but also open your minds to make sure that you’re not being scammed.

Jason Hartman: Good points. I remember just right after the Philippines disaster, I posted that I donated to the Red Cross through Amazon.com, and that link I guess either automatically or I allowed it to happen, shared on my Facebook page and people started criticizing the Red Cross. And I know that the Red Cross has its share of criticism, and any big organization of any type does. And I don’t have enough time to vet or figure out whether the Red Cross is really good or bad, but I do know that they’re actually there on the ground providing relief. I’m not sure how much of it gets there, but a bunch of people started criticizing that donation and sending links to articles about what the Red Cross has done wrong and this kind of stuff. How should I feel about that or interpret that?

Art Taylor: Sure. We keep very close tabs on the work of the American Red Cross. And from time to time we will recommend things and they will make changes. I can say under their current leadership they have been very interested in making sure that they are meeting donor expectations. And they’ve done a lot of work to consolidate the organization under single control so that they can make sure that their fundraising, that their mission work, that the relief work that they do is all in alignment. And I would encourage people who are concerned about the Red Cross to reach out to them directly and make sure that you get all your questions answered. I know from our dealings with them that they’re very concerned about the perception that people have about their organization and they’re willing to do things to make sure that people are comfortable that their gifts are being used correctly.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, but even when they do that they’ll just have their spiel about how they’re good. How does someone really know? I know you mentioned some resources at the beginning, and you’re a resource for that. I just wanted to drill down on that – anymore information you can provide would be great.

Art Taylor: Yeah, well the most information I can give you is to again review our reports, and the standards that we said are very tough standards. And I can tell you that they do meet our standards. There have been years particularly following the 9-11 attacks when they did not meet our standards. But they’ve come a long way, and I just want to let people know that. And that’s not to say that everybody wants to give all their money to the American Red Cross. But I can tell you that I look at them very differently today than I looked at them years ago. They’re a very different organization and they’ve got good leadership, which has I think the right motivations and they’re putting the right programs in place to make sure that they’re dealing with the concerns of donors.

Jason Hartman: Yeah I remember when Bill O’Reilly really held their feet to the fire after the 9-11 because they were using the money just for the general Red Cross programs and all of the people who donated thought it was going to specific 9-11 relief. So that’s a good point, but I’m glad to hear that they’ve hopefully changed their tactics a little bit. Just any more advice? I know you have to run Art, but any easy ways to spot trends and tactics that scammers are using?

Art Taylor: Sure. Be wary of sound-alike organizations, unsolicited Email, and pressure tactics.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, good points. Art give out your website.

Art Taylor: Give.org.

Jason Hartman: Art Taylor, thanks so much for joining us.

Art Taylor: Bye.

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Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show. Protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show, which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own, and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

Transcribed by Ralph

The Holistic Survival Team

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Episode: 195

Guest: Art Taylor

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