CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a warning we hear often during natural disasters – think before you donate.
The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is warning consumers that scammers can use emergencies, like Hurricane Harvey, as an opportunity to take people’s money.
According to the BBB, reports have already been released about storm scams and fake 1-800 numbers to make donations. The bureau warns donors to do their homework and to seek out accredited charities through give.org.
“As people try to assist storm victims and their families, there will be dishonest people creating fake donation campaigns to exploit the situation and try to scam those wanting to help. While there may be a sense of urgency, we encourage people to carefully consider who exactly they are giving to, making sure they are actually providing relief to those in need,” said Chicago and Northern Illinois President and CEO Steve J. Bernas.
Indiana Attorney General also gave tips on making sure your money is really going toward relief efforts in Houston, CBS Indy reports.
“Anyone that wants to donate and provide extra supplies or money should do that through a reputable disaster relief or other organization – one you have heard of before.
Red flags include people soliciting funds door-to-door or on the phone. She said pop-up soliticting funds online may be a scam as well.
Organizations like the Salvation Army, United Way, and Red Cross will not do that.
The BBB offered the following tips:
– Rely on expert opinion when evaluating a charity at Give.org
– Be cautious when giving online. If you are seeking to give to a charity organization involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website. And make sure the website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
– Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
– Understand crowdfunding. While this method of assisting individuals in need is popular, keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a disaster.
You can also look at the Better Business Bureau’s list of Accredited Charities.