Friday, January 27, 2012

Scam Alert: Namakan Capital

Namakan Capital is a payday loan company that follows the same business model as OSM Marketing. They lend money, but aren't licensed in the most, if any, states. They collect devastating amounts of money from their customers' accounts, every month, until the account runs dry. All complaints sent to the business from the Better Business Bureau have been returned in the mail. The company is most likely located outside the United States. Do not get loans from this unlicensed business.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Charity Wednesdays - 3 Big Players in KC's Nonprofit Community

Last week, I tooted my own horn about how the BBB can help nonprofit organizations.  This week I'm going to toot the horn of 3 local organizations every Kansas City charity should be working with. 

In no particular order, I present:

Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership 

MCNL, housed at UMKC, advances nonprofit operations through the development of its leaders.  It offers seminars and workshops in the areas of fundraising, strategic planning, finances, board leadership, and management.  MCNL also conducts extensive research on the local nonprofit sector.

Greater Kansas City Community Foundation

With over $1 billion in managed assets, GKCCF is a leader in Kansas City's nonprofit community.  This organization streamlines the process of giving for those individuals and businesses that want to establish a charitable fund to benefit causes they care about, but don't want the burden of running it themselves.  My favorite program of  GKCCF is their giving cards.  In amounts ranging from $25 to $250, a giving card is the perfect way to honor people by supporting their charitable endeavors.

Nonprofit Connect

Nonprofit Connect is the amazing organization behind the annual Philanthropy Midwest Conference.  I attend it every year and always come away with connections and information that make my work in the nonprofit sector better.  Nonprofit Connect  also offers affordable training in all aspects of nonprofit operations, networking opportunities, and a jobs board for both paid and volunteer positions.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Top Scams for 2011

Phishing Scams: The world is bombarded daily with phishing scams via email, Facebook, Twitter, and phone calls. Kansas City is no different. Last year the BBB's name was used in a phishing scam that attempted to obtain banking information from businesses.

Fake Collection Agencies: These companies that attempt to collect on debt that has already been paid off years before. Collecting on what was actually a real debt years before tends to confuse debtors, because they believe they may not have paid it all off. Overland Park is home  to Regent Asset Management/Imperial Recovery Partners, which was sued by the Colorado Attorney General's office.

Timeshare Resale: Kansas City is not unique in this one. Timeshare Resale companies claim to exist in every major city in the country. Many of them are different incarnations of the same group of con men. In 2011, there were at least five fake Timeshare Resale companies claiming to be in the Kansas City area. They stole anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 from victims.

Payday Loan Scams: Payday loans are difficult enough to deal with without fraud. Some overseas payday loan companies have made Kansas City their U.S. operation site. Their domestic "businesses" acquire people's bank account information, deposit $200 in accounts and then begin collecting hundreds of dollars per month. By depositing money into a person's account, it can throw off the scent to consumer protection agencies.Often people have no idea who the loan company is.

Weight Loss Scams:  Every time the FTC sues a company for false advertising concerning the "active" ingredients of a pill, a new one pops up. Right now a popular ingredient is capsaicin, a chemical found in cayenne. However, it doesn't do anything with doses that are possible to eat. That hasn't stopped weight loss companies from boasting about its power to accelerate weight loss. In 2009, and 2010, Acai berry product manufacturers claimed many of the same things with even less evidence. Next year will surely be something different. There ARE pharmaceuticals out there that plausibly cause weight loss. Unfortunately, they are difficult to differentiate from scam products. It's best to consult a doctor about it.

Foreign Sweepstakes: Foreign lotteries are illegal. All calls and mailings from international lotteries are scams, without exception. They all ask for money up front.

Charity Scams: Fake charities use people's generosity and good intentions to get personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and even social security numbers. Be sure to check out Search.BBB.org and Guidestar.org before donating.

Immigration Scams: These companies tell immigrants that they will help with obtaining, or guarantee, a green card or citizenship. They don't necessarily rely on their victim's inability to speak fluent English, but it helps. They scam Latinos, Canadians, Europeans or anyone who wants to become a citizen. They take money up front and do absolutely nothing. One of the local businesses, Immigration Forms and Publications, was recently shut down and its officers sentenced to prison on racketeering charges.

Jobs Scams: They can be found on Monster.com, Career Builder, independent web sites, mailings, print advertisements, and ESPECIALLY Craigslist. Various job scams exist. Some advertise government jobs and then ask up front fees to help the buyer find a job. The consumers are then mailed a packet of information about getting jobs. Some jobs scams claim people can work from home, but there isn't really a position. The scam asks for money to pay for materials necessary to do the job. Either nothing is sent or it isn't what they said it would be. Craigslist is different. Most of the time, scams found on Craigslist wipe out people's bank accounts, so it's already extreme. It's not the worst. In other instances, people responding to jobs ads on Craiglist have been robbed, beaten, raped and murdered. If looking for a job, make sure there is plenty of online information about the business. If the business attempts to withhold a single iota of information about the job or the business, never speak to them again.

Grant Scams: The government does not give away money for no reason. Applying for a grant can be a lengthy process and requires a detailed outline of the applicant's plans for the money. Grant scams call people and say the victim has been pre-selected to receive a grant, or the scam guarantees a grant, of many thousands of dollars. Sometimes the scam claims it is because the person is a "good citizen,." Sometimes the scams claim it's a small business grant. The victim is charged hundreds or thousands of dollars for one excuse or another. Bottom line: if anyone calls about a grant, it's a scam.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Charity Wednesdays - What Can the BBB Do for Your Nonprofit?


 What can the BBB do for your nonprofit organization?


When a nonprofit chooses to go through the BBB review process. Fantastic things happen. 


This is what the BBB will do for your organization: 

  • Strengthen overall operations. 
  • Show the donating public you are committed to accountability and willing to go beyond legal requirements. 
  • Reassure donors your organization will put their contributions to good use.   
What if you meet all 20 standards?  How can you inform donors of your accomplishment?


In February of 2009 the Kansas City BBB launched its Charity Seal Program.  The seal is offered for a nominal fee to any local charity that meets all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.  


BBB Wise Giving Alliance research shows that 70% of the public find it difficult to verify charity accountability. 

The seal shows that your organization meets the comprehensive standards of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.  It helps increase donor confidence and strengthens public trust in philanthropy by addressing accountability issues like donor privacy and charity effectiveness that exceed what government regulators require. 

Surveys show that 98% of the public is familiar with the Better Business Bureau name.  This highly recognizable name on the seal promotes your charity’s commitment to accountability and ethical practices. 


Are you eligible to use the seal?

You may use the seal if your organization is a publicly soliciting local charity, at least two years old, and meets the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. 

 

Where may you display the seal? 

You may display the seal: 

  • In printed solicitation materials.
  • On your Web site, where visitors can “click to check” to confirm participation and access your latest BBB report. 
  • In newspaper and magazine advertisements. 
  • In television public service announcements and other authorized venues. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2 Years After Haiti's Earthquake - "It's not hopeless, it's just slow"

Tomorrow marks the 2 year anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake the struck just west of the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince, affecting over 3 million people.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that in the wake of the tragedy, 60 aid groups raised $2.1 billion dollars, nearly 70% of which came from Americans.

Where is that money?  Has it been spent?  How is it being used?    The short answer is that the majority of the money raised has been spent as intended on housing, health care, and water and sanitation systems.  For the long answer, click on the link.  Because the international aid community was already well-established in Haiti before the earthquake, nonprofits were able to make efficient use of donations.

But there is still great need, and the flow of donations has trickled.  Aid organizations urge donors to continue to give. As one aid worker notes in the Chronicle's piece, "It's not hopeless, it's just slow."


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Scam Warning: Regent Imaging Supplies

I haven't seen a Copy Toner scam in a while. I thought they were mostly gone. Here is an example of one from the myth-busting website, Snopes.com. The Federal Trade Commissions has a perpetual warning about them. Regent Imaging Supplies uses the oldest scam on the books to make money.

The scam works as such: the company calls businesses to sell them toner and asks them to update their information. They speak with employees; almost never do these outfits speak to the owner of the business. They get the employee to agree to purchase supplies from the company, then charges an astronomical price for basic office supplies.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Scam Alert: GBO Inc, Trademark and Patent Dept.

A company claiming to need $960.00 to renew business trademarks is contacting area businesses via mail. GBO Inc. asks the mailing recipient to pay the fee by wire transfer or check.  This company is not a trademark or patent office. In their mailing, they say that they have found the information about the trademark from a free database. Trademarks are renewed directly with the U.S, Trademark and Patent Office. The offer costs an excessive amount more than it would cost if done by the holder of the trademark. Some people claim that it is only a listing service, which makes no sense, because they got the patent and trademark information from FREE listings.

Their address is: 1031 Ives Dairy Road, Suite 228. Miami, FL. and they use a Kansas phone number: (785) 925-4260.