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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Beware of fake fun runs this summer

By Tyler Russell Marketplace Manager

Summertime is filled with activities for a wide variety of interests. You can take in a food festival, county fair or concert.

This time of the year is also busy with 5K races and fun runs that pop up every weekend. Many of these events raise awareness for a good cause. Often, participants can add a donation to a charity directly to their registration or be part of the fundraising team prior to the event.

Unfortunately, Better Business Bureau receives reports and complaints from around the country about a variety of fun runs that get canceled at short notice, often with no refunds. We also receive complaints about charities that don’t exist or can’t be verified. There have been examples recently of participants showing up at an event to find no one present and other participants trying to find the organizers.

If you’re thinking about participating in themed fun runs, BBB offers the following advice:

Do your research. Check the company’s business profile and search online for additional information before signing up.

Check the local venue. Contact the park to confirm the event is scheduled.

Pay with a credit card. Charges made with a credit card can be disputed after purchase.

Understand the terms and conditions. In some cases, promoters say on their websites they don’t offer refunds, but many consumers don’t read the fine print prior to clicking “I agree” to lengthy online documents. Make sure you read the entry form terms and conditions, especially the section that includes information regarding if your fee is refundable if the event is canceled.

Keep your documentation in order. After you complete your online registration process, you should receive a confirmation receipt. Make sure to keep that document digitally and to have a printed copy of that confirmation and supporting documentation for future reference.

Check out the charity. Some of the fun runs out there are for-profit, but if the promoters claim a portion of the proceeds are going to charity, find out what percentage of your registration fee or the funds raised will go to the charity. You can look up the charity on www.give.org to ensure it is trustworthy. You also can check the BBB Charity Review, which will show if the charity meets BBB’s Standards for Charity Accountability. Better Business Bureau does recommend contacting the charity directly to find out whether they are running the event. Be careful of sound-alike names, and don’t be fooled into giving your donations to an organization simply because its name is similar to more famous charities.

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