Helping victims of the Washington State mudslide — Make sure your donations count
When disaster strikes, you can be sure that scam artists will be close behind. The latest example is the massive mudslide in Oso, Washington.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, and Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General, urge consumers to be on guard against scam artists who try to take advantage of the tragic situation.
“It is a natural instinct to want to provide assistance right away,” said Attorney General Ferguson, “but ... I advise potential donors to exercise caution and make sure their hard-earned dollars go for the purpose intended, not to line the pockets of scam artists.”
If you’re asked to make a charitable donation to support the Oso community:
- Donate to charities you know and trust. Find a charity with a track record of dealing with natural disasters.
- Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Designate the disaster. Charities may give the option to designate your giving to a specific disaster. That way, you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
- Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
- Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
- Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.
For more on the questions to ask and for a list of groups that can help you research a charity, go to Charity Scams.