After recent flooding devastated parts of Louisiana, many people are eager to pitch in and help those affected. Unfortunately, past catastrophes like tsunamis in Japan, Hurricane Katrina, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have shown us that scammers are out to take advantage by tricking you into giving money, or even by selling you a flood-damaged car.
Attorney General Roy Cooper encourages North Carolinians to give generously to relief efforts for Louisiana flood victims, but be wary of charity scams. If you plan to donate, remember:
Don’t respond to out-of-the-blue emails, text messages or social media posts that ask you to give. Instead, contact the charity directly through their website or valid phone number.
Avoid pushy telemarketers who refuse to answer your questions or pressure you to give them a credit card number. Some telemarketers keep as much as 90 percent of the money they raise for charity for themselves. Your money will go further if you give to the organization directly.
Be cautious when giving through crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Although many of these fundraising appeals are legitimate, crowdfunding sites don’t screen users for authenticity. Know who and what you’re really donating to before you give.
Don’t give cash, which can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card. If you write a check, make it out to the charity, not to a fundraiser.
Protect your personal information. Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who contacts you, and don’t share personal financial information by email or text message.
Check out charities before you give. For detailed financial information about a charity, contact the NC Secretary of State’s office at (888) 830-4989 or secretary.state.nc.us/csl, or visit guidestar.org.
If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.