Let experts - not fraudsters - guide charitable giving aimed at helping Oklahoma tornado victims, urge consumer advocates. Learn more.
Be cautious with charitable giving aimed at helping Oklahoma tornado victims, urge consumer advocates, and let experts – not fraudsters – guide your donations.
“After every natural disaster and manmade catastrophe we see an outpouring of generosity, along with the inevitable scams and frauds,” Art Taylor, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, said in a statement released this week. “We urge donors to take the time to make sure their donations are going to legitimate charities that can do the most good for those in need.”
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Beware of charities that appear to have “sprung up overnight” in connection with a natural disaster, urges Amy Herbert, a consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission. “Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from scammers who either collect for a charity that doesn’t exist or aren’t honest about how their ‘charity’ will use the money you give.”
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Watchdog agencies offer the following tips to guide charitable giving to benefit residents of tornado-stricken communities in Oklahoma:
· Donate to charities you know and trust, or check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar, advises the FTC: “Don’t give out personal or financial information – including your credit card or bank account number – unless you know the charity is reputable.”
· Consider the nature of the charity’s work, recommends the Charity Navigator, a charity rating service. Some organizations provide shelter, others food, water and medical aid. Some focus on rebuilding efforts and others raise money on behalf of other charities. “Think about what it is you want to accomplish and then make sure you select the charity of doing that type of work,” the organization recommends.
· Can you designate your gift? Some disaster-relief charities do not allow donors to designate how their gift will be used. “That means your funds may be put towards the charity’s disaster work in other parts of the country or the world,” advises Charity Navigator. “Be sure to get clarity on this point before you donate.”
· Be careful of online solicitations. Unsolicited spam messages and social medial posts claiming to be linked to a relief organization warrant extra caution, warns the BBB. “If you want to give to a charity involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website.”