Watch out for disaster scammers
Posted May 21, 2013
We all want to help, but please take care in making sure any groups you donate to are legitimate.
It’s hard to accept but the truth is while disasters tend to bring out the best in many people, they also bring out the worst in scammers! Here are a couple of links for what to watch out for and how you can help!
- Watch out for pushy telemarketers. Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you are usually up to no good. Also, some telemarketers keep up to 90 percent of the money they collect for charities. Your money will go further if you give directly to the real charity, not to hired fundraisers.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give. Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be an example of phishing. The messages may include links to copycat web sites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors.
- Be careful of social networking posts asking you to donate. The cause may sound worthy, but you have no way of verifying how your money would really be used.
- Watch out for fake charities that sound real. Some scammers use names that are very close to the names of real charities, non-profits or even law enforcement agencies. If you want to donate, contact the real charity or organization at a website or phone number you know to be valid.
- Don’t give cash. Cash gifts can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card. If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser.
- Protect your personal information. Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who contacts you, for any reason.
- Say no to high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won’t push you to give on the spot.
- If you want to give to charity, do your homework first. Visit www.give.org to see if national charities meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and www.charitywatch.org for ratings of charities by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Other good sources of information are www.guidestar.org and www.charitynavigator.org.
Legitimate aid to Oklahoma
North Carolina-based charity Samaritan's Purse is sending volunteers to help with the response to the tornadoes in Moore and Shawnee, Okla. Two teams from North Carolina arrived Tuesday in Oklahoma to help with debris clean up, and more people are needed.
The American Red Cross is providing food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas.
You can designate a donation to help with its response to the deadly tornado that ravaged Moore, Okla. Monday, May 20, 2013.
Call 1-800-RED-CROSS, visit RedCross.org or text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 to the organization. The charge will be added to your next cellphone bill.
To assist the Salvation Army, text "STORM" to 8088.
Text "FOOD" to 32333 for donations to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.