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5 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed By 'Pinkwashing' for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Photo by Margaret M. Stewart via Shutterstock
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Every October, Americans are urged to "think pink" and do their part for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So how is this a bad thing?

Events, news specials, products, and charitable efforts, tinged with a cheery pink, urge women to get their boobies checked regularly for signs of cancer, and reminds all of us to the battle many women fight when afflicted, the strength of survivors, and the ongoing effort to find better treatments and a cure.

It's not all positive, however. One on hand, activists have coined the term "pinkwashing" when it comes to the prolific pink-ness of products seen around in October. "They say that's when a company or organization does a pink breast cancer promotion, but at the same time sells and profits from pink-theme products."

Now California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued a consumer alert with tips on how Californians can make safe, informed donations in observance of NBCAM.

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Here are Harris' 5 tips on how to avoid being scammed:

1. Avoid giving your credit card number to a telephone solicitor. Avoid giving cash to an individual or responding to an e-mail solicitation. Instead, seek out known organizations and give directly by calling the organization, visiting its official website, or mailing a check to the listed address. 2. Research an organization before you donate by visiting:
- California Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts
- Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance
- Charity Navigator

3. Learn about an organization by asking the right questions: Does the organization only support research? Does it fund community health programs? How are donations used? What percentage of donations is used for charitable activities?

4. Avoid generic claims like "Supports Breast Cancer Programs," and look for a name, label, or logo that you recognize and can verify.

5. Ask the organization not to store your credit card information.

NBCAM notes that they do not ask for money, nor do they let other groups ask for money on their behalf:
Please note that the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization (NBCAM) does not solicit contributions and has not authorized the use of its name for solicitation purposes. If you are contacted by an individual requesting a donation to NBCAM, please do not give out your financial or personal information.

As an alternative to giving cash, you may want to consider giving your time as a volunteer for breast cancer support organizations, and make a personal connection to the cause. Awareness is also best achieved via education on the issue, and spreading the word, by urging others to learn more and to get checked.