With October approaching, orange and black are everywhere – and so is pink. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time for fun runs, pink-ribbon tie-ins and direct appeals to donate to a variety of charities that support research or breast cancer survivors.

There’s no doubt that breast cancer is a serious disease that affects women and some men. According to estimates by the American Cancer Society, more than 271,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, and more than 42,000 people will die from the disease.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to pick their pink products carefully. If you want to support cancer research or help survivors, be sure that a product tie-in actually supports the charity. Look closely at the product packaging or go online to find disclosures about which charity receives the money and how much the charity gets from your purchase.

It’s also important to vet the charities. Some unscrupulous people come up with names that sound similar to well-known charities. Because breast cancer gets a lot of press, scammers find it an attractive vehicle for dishonest schemes.

BBB offers the following tips on buying products to support charities:

• Inspect the product for information.  Many companies clearly report on labels how much of their sales go to charity and specifically where the money goes.

• If the information isn’t on the product itself, it often can be found at a website address printed on the product packaging.

• If you still can’t find the information, call the company and ask for it. Firms that use charity tie-ins to market their products should be transparent to consumers.

• Contact the charity directly if you have doubts they are receiving proceeds.

• Check out the charity to decide whether it is worthy of your support. Check its BBB Charity Review at BBB.org.

Tips for avoiding charity scams include:

• Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do.

• If you contribute, do not give cash.  Make a check or money order out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.

• Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. An honest charity can use your donation no matter when you donate.

For more BBB tips or to check out a company or charity, go to BBB.org.

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