Tornadoes have wreaked havoc across the country. Thousands have lost their homes and all of their belongings. Others have lost their loved ones.
“When disaster strikes, scam artists come out of the woodwork,” says Reanna Smith-Hamblin, VP/Communications for the BBB serving Louisville, Southern Indiana, and Western Kentucky. “Scam artists show up and pose as charities, seeking donations from people who are anxious to help.”
To make sure that your donation helps tornado victims as intended, follow these tips from BBB:
· Before donating, visit www.bbb.org/charity to research organizations you’re considering supporting.
· Beware of fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in an attempt to confuse donors.
· Be wary of “charities” that come knocking on your door who are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances, and programs.
· Don’t give in to excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a “runner” to pick up your contribution.
· Don’t give cash. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the name of the organization, not the individual collecting the donation.
· Don’t give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor.
· Be cautious when giving online. At times like this, scam artists don’t think twice about tricking you into giving to phony charities. If you want to give to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website.
· Don’t click on any links in email solicitations for money for victims.
· Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly.
· Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or is raising money for other relief groups. Some charities raise money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, consider avoiding the middleman and give directly to organizations actually helping in the area.
· Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Charitable organizations have expenses they must cover, including those for fund raising and administrative costs.
For more tips on giving, go to www.bbb.org/charity or call 1-800-388-2222.