Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - 2011 Holiday Giving Guide

The BBB Wants YOU To Make Smart Giving Choices This Holiday Season!

Many individuals and families make holiday giving a part of their celebrations as a way to remember those less fortunate, to teach their children about caring for others, or even as a way to receive last-minute tax deductions before year’s end.  Charities often depend on end-of-year giving to keep their financials in the black.   We want you to know how to make sure your holiday giving makes a difference.

Responding to Natural Disasters and Humanitarian Crises

Many in our metro were personally touched by disasters in Reading, Kansas and Joplin, Missouri.  Natural disasters around the world have left many in great need.  As you consider donating money to meet the needs of people who are suffering, here are some tips.

1.Be cautious when giving online.
2.Find out if the charity has an established, on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
3.Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
4.Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.

Smart Giving Basics
  1. Do not give cash; always make contributions by check and make your check payable to the charity, not to the individual collecting the donation.
  2. Keep records of your donations (receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements) so you can document your charitable giving at tax time. Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not deductible, out-of-pocket expenses (including transportation costs) directly related to your volunteer service to a charity are deductible.
  3. Don't be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.
  4. Check out the organization with the local charity registration office (usually a division of the state attorney general's office) and with your Better Business Bureau.

Below is a list of local charities that have been reviewed by the BBB according to the Standards for Charity Accountability. 

Accredited Charities

The following local charities meet all 20 BBB Standards of Charity Accountability and have been awarded the Kansas City BBB Charity Seal.

The following organization also meets all 20 Standards:

Additionally, the following national charities based here the Kansas City metro area are accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance:

Other Charity Reviews
The following local charity voluntarily submitted information to the BBB and have been reviewed BBB.  For a variety of reasons, they do not meet all 20 Standards. 

The following charities have chosen not to respond to BBB requests for information.

For more information on making wise giving choices, check out the BBB’s Tips on Giving

The BBB reports on charities that the public has us asked about. If your favorite charity is not listed with us, click here to inquire about that organization.  Organizations can also register themselves by visiting our registration page. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scams of the Week: November 30, 2011

BBB Sweepstakes - Jamaicans are calling Kansas City residents claiming to be the Better Business Bureau of Denver and that they are giving away $1 Million. Unfortunately, the BBB does not give away millions of dollars to random people. They ask victims to go to CVS and get two $400 "Moneypack Reloads," and then to call them back for directions of where to send them.  They call from (876) 420-8921.

Exterior Home Concepts - According to the BBB in Indianapolis, Exterior Home Concepts has been taking money from homeowners in advance for roof work. The company never starts work on the homes and keeps the money. Certified mail has been returned from their local address at 8016 State Line Rd in Kansas City, KS.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - If It Sounds Too Good to Be True . . .

In the spirit of the holiday season, I thought this vintage BBB commercial would be fun.  Our most basic advice on avoiding consumer scams is the same today as it was back then - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

The same message applies to charitable giving.  If a charity tells you it has no overhead expenses or that all of your donation will go toward programs, they are probably not telling you the truth.  Always ask questions and never feel pressured into making a donation.   Your generosity this holiday season is sorely needed by your favorite charities.  Your experience of giving should be a good one.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Scams of the Week: November 23, 2011

BBB Phishing Scam - As of today, all across the country, scammers are claiming that businesses have gotten complaints.  Most of the complaint numbers begin with "22" or "24," but some don't.  The scammers are trying to cash in on communication difficulties during the holidays, making complaints difficult to verify because the BBB will be off for Thanksgiving. The emails are supposedly coming from "," "," and ""  Fortunately, the scammers unleashed their plan a bit early, and we are in our offices today. They are also trying to attack our main email accounts to further disrupt communication. If your business receives an email about a complaint that fits the description above, delete the email and have your IT department run a virus scan. You can contact us at or (816) 421-7800. Or you can contact us during the holidays at KANSASCITYBBB@GMAIL.COM

The text of the email looks like this:

"The Better Business Bureau has received the above-referenced complaint
from one of your customers regarding their dealings with you.
The details of the consumer's concern are included on the reverse.
Please review this matter and advise us of your position.
As a neutral third party, the Better Business Bureau can help to resolve
the matter. Often complaints are a result of misunderstandings a company
wants to know about and correct.
We encourage you to use our ONLINE COMPLAINT system to respond this

The following URL (website address) below will take you directly to this
complaint and you will be able to enter your response directly on our

Winners Circle - A group of foreign scammers who call people and tell them they've won $2.5 million. They must pay a fee of $750--to be wired via Moneygram or Western Union, of course.

Xbox Live Phishing Scam - Microsoft got hit by another elaborate phishing scam today.  People are being contacted by scammers asking for personal information such as credit card numbers. Xbox's official blog has more details.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Scams of the Week: November 14, 2011

Jamaican Lottery Scam - This is one of the scarier scams. They actually want to meet up with the victims. They want their elderly targets to bring money with them to a meeting spot. We're not sure if they change their plans to a wire transfer at the last minute or actually have a confederate located in the area. They are calling from 1-876-864-8217 at the moment, but will likely change that soon.

Wire Transfer Confirmation - This is one of the more clever scams, except for the bad grammar. The scammers send a blast email to as many people as possible, saying that their wire transfer has been put on hold. They will probably contact a few people who have recently wired money. They will then try to get the victim to give personal information and even re-wire the money to a third party.

Realty Executive Escrow - We finally determined the name of the "escrow group" that All City Management claims to use.  All City Management contacts victims and claims that they have a buyer for their timeshares. They recommend using Realty Executive Escrow, which, in reality, is actually the same group of people. IF SOMEONE CALLS YOU AND SAYS THEY HAVE A BUYER LINED UP FOR YOUR TIMESHARE, IT'S A SCAM.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - What The Occupy Movement Can Teach All Nonprofits

Whether or not you sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, there is something that all of us in the nonprofit sector can learn from this movement.  As The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes, the Occupy movement has been successful because the campaign doesn't have the look of something created in an ad agency, but rather a genuine 'rough around the edges' tone that appeals to an audience looking for something real.  Real people expressing themselves in real ways.

I'm not sure that the Occupy folks consulted with any professional advertisers about how to channel their passions. They're not a centralized movement and not exactly the type of people that would 'pitch-in' to hire a corporation to help them craft their anti-corporate messages.  Take those cardboard signs with hand-written messages.  I'm guessing that came from one of many pre-protest brainstorming sessions.  Maybe it was Ted or Jan that grabbed a discarded pizza box and felt inspired to write something on it with a Sharpie. Maybe it was a 'plan b' after Greg's balloon idea fizzeled.  I don't know.  But it works. And it at least seems genuine.  Add the techie elements from a generation that can't remember the world without social networking and texting and you have a movement that people identify with. I've heard a lot of speeches from so-called experts on how nonprofits can get people to identify with their cause and I have yet to hear one expert suggest that a sharpie and a pizza box are necessary tools. 

But what I love more than anything about the nonprofit sector is that the number one way to succeed as a charity, as a movement, as a cause is to do something different.  Ideas that stick can come from anywhere.

Monday, November 7, 2011

BBB Anniversary Recap

In celebration of the Kansas City Better Busienss Bureau's 95th anniversary, we hosted an awards ceremony in honor of longtime BBB Accredited Businesses.

We first had a Meet & Greet hour, during which our Accredited Business owners and reps could mingle with us and others.

During the meet & greet, there was a live Jazz band.

During the meal, our Chairman of the Board, Aaron Brown, Customer Relations Manager for Nebraska Furniture Mart, spoke on the importance of BBB history.

Our Keynote speaker, Kathy Pickering, Vice President of the H&R Block's Tax Institute, spoke on business taxes and what's in' store for small businesses.

President of the Better Business Bureau, David Buckley, gave report on the BBB's financial history and some of our activities in the past 95 years.

As dinner winded down, we presented our longtime BBB Accredited Business. Our Director of Accreditation Dustin Johnson gave descriptions of the company's commitment marketplace ethics over the years while President David Buckley presented the awards.

Accredited Businesses with more that 50 years of continued support to the Better Business Bureau include:
Arthur Fels Company 
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
Dean Machinery Co.
First Federal Bank of Kansas City
Ford Motor Company - Kansas City
Helzberg Diamonds Shops, Inc.
Hovey Williams L.L.P.
James B. Nutter and Co.
John A. Marshall Company
The Kansas City Star
McConnell & Associates Corp
Missouri Peace Officers Association
Pace Products Inc.
Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service
Shawnee Steel & Welding Inc.
Standard Improvement Company
Strasser True Value
Tivol Plaza Inc.
Victor Ross & Company Realtors
Vita Craft Corporation

Businesses that have given 25 years of continued Support: A F C Heating & Cooling, ABC Home Heating & Cooling, LLC, Able Auto Service, Arctic Air Heating & Cooling Company, Arrow Truck Sales Inc., Banks Pool & Spa Design, Beaver Foundation Repair, Bernstein-Rein Advertising, Inc., Blue Ridge Mazda, Blue Springs Ford, Blue Springs Truck Line Inc, Boan Heating & Cooling Inc., Bob D. Campbell & Company, Boelte-Hall, LLC, Bratton Bros Contracting Inc, Burke Travel Inc, Casey Brothers Sinclair Inc., Cates Service Co., Celebrity China & Crystal, City Wide Remodelers, Claymark Homes, Inc., Comcast Cable, Cottman Transmission Center, Cox Roofing, Credit Motors Inc., Dade Remodeling, Dave Cross Motors Inc, Don Kahan Motors, Enterprise Leasing Company of KS, LLC, Family Tree Nursery, Firestone Tire Service Centers, Foley Belsaw Company, Galen Boyer Motors Inc, Gary Crossley Ford Inc., George's Imports Ltd, Gerber Moving & Storage, Glitters Fine Jewelry, Grandview Furnace Company, Grant Renne & Sons Inc, Gunter Pest Management Inc., Industrial Lumber Company Inc., J&R Asphalt Paving & Concrete, Jewelry Arts Inc., Johnson County Guttering Co., Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Kimbrough Roofing Inc., Larry L. Vaught Roofing Inc., Lee's Summit Honda, McCarthy Blue Springs Nissan Inc., Meredith Corp, Merriam Body Shop Inc., Meyers Turf Farms Inc., MHC Kenworth, Midwest Carpet Center Inc, Morse Chevrolet Company, Overland Park Jeep Inc., Ozark National Life Insurance, Patricia Stevens Model & Talent Agency, Pinnacle Career Institute, Posty Cards Inc, R. Trusty Construction Co., LLC., Reddi Services Inc., Renner Supply Co/Delden Mfg., Rob Sight Ford Lincoln, Roe Body Shop, Inc. Rosehill Gardens Inc., Seeburg Mufflers of MO Inc., Speak Family Legacy Chapels, Inc., Star Motors LTD, The AMCO Solution, Throroughbred Ford Inc, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., Wisner Concrete & Crack Repair, Witter Plumbing & Electrick, Wright Dental Care.

Thanks for all your support through the years, 
BBB Staff

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Charity Wednesdays: Local News Investigates SCTNow

NBC Action News recently investigated Stop Child Trafficking Now, also known as SCTNow and Strategic Global Initiatives.  The charity, based in New York, has started fundraising in Kansas City and there are concerns that, despite their claims, the money they raise will not be used to help fight child trafficking her in KC.

According to the Kansas City Star, KC is an emerging hub of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery.

While the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance is working to develop a comprehensive report on this nationally-soliciting charity, I invite you to learn more about child trafficking from the BBB Accredited Charity, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scams of the Week: November 1, 2011

NiGen BioTech, LLC - They advertise a weight loss product called the "HCG solution." Already, the FDA has outlawed HCG homeopathic weight loss supplements.  This one doesn't say it's homeopathic, but I don't see much difference. It caught my eye because of the incredible advertisement they published. It says,

"But do they really work? To tell you the truth, almost every expert will say either "absolutely not," "The reduced calorie diet plan caused the weight loss" or "the weight loss was the result of the placebo effect." Yet the fact remains that tens of thousands of men and women swear by it... just ask your friends."

I was dumbfounded.  They're saying that it's universally reviled by weight loss experts and dietitians, but if you ask someone with no qualifications whatsoever, they'll say it works. It's an interesting tactic. I suppose it will only work on people who don't believe "almost every expert."

All City Management Group - Another timeshare resale company that claims to be in the area. Their website is (surprise surprise) privately registered, so no details about the company can be ascertained. They claim to be at an address without a suite number or address letter. They say that they have a buyer lined up for their victims' timeshares, but they have an 8% finder's fee.

Investment Negotiation Email - "I want to know if you are willing and capable of partnering with me on this investment..." That's about all you need to read before hitting "send to spam folder." It's from someone you've never heard of, emailing from It's a variation of the Nigerian email scam, only with a clever's from Cote d'Ivoire. How clever.

Easy Financial Services - They want victims to Wire money to some guy in Canada to secure a loan. Illegal on lots of levels They claim to be at 2500 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles and have the phone number 213-438-9795