National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Better Business Bureau warns of 'pinkwashing' scams

CLEARWATER, Fla. - It's Pinktober, and that means -- from grocery store shelves to football fields -- breast cancer awareness ribbons are in full display.  But unfortunately, so are the scams.

"Just because you see the pink ribbon doesn't mean that all of your money is going to go to that cause," warned Bryan Oglesby, director of business relations for the Better Business Bureau of West Florida.

The BBB is cautioning consumers to beware of a practice commonly known as "pinkwashing."

Since the widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by any agency, companies can put it on their products, even if the sale of that item is not necessarily tied to a company's charitable contributions.

In other cases, the BBB says companies will put a "cap" on their maximum donation. Once that amount is reached, they may continue to sell the product with the pink ribbon without alerting customers that additional funds will not be donated to breast cancer organizations.

"As a survivor that knows some of that money is not going anywhere but to the pockets of the people who are promoting that, it just makes me ill," said Peggie Sherry a two-time breast cancer survivor and the Founder/CEO of the nonprofit "Faces of Courage."

So what can you do to pinkwash protect yourself?

According to the BBB, it's all about doing your homework. They recommend finding out what percentage of the sale price is being donated,  which charity organization it's being donated to, and a breakdown of how the funds will be used. You can also confirm the charity's corporate partners. Many national breast cancer charities list their corporate partners and sponsors on their website and the BBB advises checking to make sure the business you're purchasing from is associated with the charity.

"Ask questions and make sure you know where the money is going," said Oglesby.

You can learn more about the business you're purchasing from and also report any misleading advertisements directly to the BBB on their website

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