Disaster Donation Scams
The damage caused by Hurricane Harvey is prompting people to help in whatever ways they can. Unfortunately, there are dishonest people who prey upon people’s good intentions, creating fake charity campaigns to exploit victims and take advantage of those who want to help.
Despite the sense of urgency to help when disaster strikes, it’s important to do some research before donating. Use these tips to make sure your money reaches the right cause:
- Never wire money to someone who claims to be a charity. Legitimate charities don’t ask for wire transfers.
- Be cautious about bloggers and social media posts that provide charity suggestions.
- Only donate through a charity’s official website, and never through emails.
- Ensure that the charity explains on its website how your money will be used.
- Be wary of charities that claim to give 100 percent of donations to victims. Well-structured organizations need to use some of their donations to cover administrative costs.
- Never offer unnecessary personal information. However, it’s common for legitimate charities to ask for your mailing address.
Donors looking for a worthy charity can access an unbiased, objective list on a website called Charity Navigator. The site receives a Form 990 for all of its charities directly from the IRS, so it knows exactly how the charities spend their money and use their donations. It also rates charities based on their location, tax status, length of operation, accountability, transparency and public support.