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Charity scams follow hurricane’s wake

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As Hurricane Michael barrels its way toward Florida's Gulf Coast, scammers continue to con people who want to help those affected by past hurricanes. Case in point: The FTC and its state and local partners are getting reports about sham charities following Hurricane Florence’s devastating impact on North and South Carolina.

In recent weeks, a slew of new websites related to Hurricane Florence have popped up. They accept donations on behalf of victims without saying who is running the sites or how the funds will be used. Some sites claim – without any clear way to verify it – that a certain percentage of donations go to certain groups, like first responders. Other sites invoke the names of well-recognized groups like the Red Cross but, again, with no easy way to confirm a relationship.

To make sure your donation counts, and to avoid fraud, follow these tips:

  • Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If they should be registered, but they're not, consider donating through another charity.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate.
  • If you know the charity is legitimate and you are ready to donate, designate the disaster so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund that the charity could use for any of its work.

If you think you’ve donated to a sham charity, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaints help us stop rip-off artists and scammers.

To learn more, go to ftc.gov/charity. And help us spread the word. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your own blog, or add it to your website.

How to verify a hurricane relief charity. Find lists of vetted charities on: give.org, charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org, guidestar.org. Search the charity name online. Do people say it's a scam? Be alert to names that closely resemble those of better-known, reputable organizations. Research charities that spring up overnight. Designate the relief effort you wish to support. Be skeptical of callers thanking you for a pledge you don't remember making. Report scams to ftc.gov/complaint. Federal Trade Commission, ftc.gov.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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