*Release from Attorney General Josh Stein's Office*
The images of the devastation and suffering in Texas are heartbreaking, and many of us want to help. But before you make a donation, make sure it will actually get to the people who need it. In the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, scammers come out of the woodwork. Here are some tips to ensure that your dollars count:
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails, text messages and social networking posts asking you to donate. You have no way of verifying how your money would really be used. The messages may include links to copycat web sites designed to look like a legitimate charity. Also, be cautious about giving through crowdfunding websites, which can be abused by charity scammers.
- Do your research and give to established charities with experience in disaster assistance. Rather than donating to someone who contacts you, find charities that are doing work you want to support. Use sites like the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar to check them out.
- Watch out for telemarketing pleas. Think carefully before giving to telemarketers who call on behalf of non-profits, since a large chunk of your gift may go to the for-profit telemarketer. It’s best if you initiate the donation instead of responding to a solicitation.
If you think you’ve been contacted by a charity scammer, you can file a complaint or contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.