They take advantage of people’s generosity following a natural disaster.
Frederick, Md (KM). The devastation caused by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas has motivated many Americans to give financially to charities which are helping with recovery efforts. However, whenever these natural disasters occur, bogus charities always crop up to take advantage of people’s generosity.
Jody Thomas with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland says she hasn’t seen a lot of those phony charities popping up on the internet, but she says she has seen some disturbing trends on the world wide web. “And we know that people reserve website names based on pending storm names,” she says. “So you can look up actually the storms that are coming up down the pike in the future, and you can find that people have already reserved website names as such with the names of those storms. So you have to be cautious.”
Thomas says it’s best to give to charities which have been around for a long time, and have people on the ground in the disaster area. “Newer organizations are not going to be so well put together. They’re not going to have the people. They’re not going to have the means,” she says.
You can find out a list of the charities which are legitimate by going to GIVE.COM, where you can also find information about giving to charities. Larger charities are also registered with the Maryland Secretary of State’s Office. The IRS also maintains a list of non-profit, charitable organizations.
In addition to giving only to established charities with a presence in the disaster areas, Thomas also says be wary of go-find-me accounts. “If you know the person affected, that’s one thing. But if you see a third party, and you’re not familiar with the person that they’re raising money for, it’s very hard to vet and to prove is that is really legitimate.. Is that really someone in need,” she says.
And to be cautious if a charity says 100% of all funds raised go to the individuals in need. “At some point, bills are going to have to be paid. There is a price to raising money, a cost to raising money. The funds are going to have to come from somewhere. So that could be a red flag that hey, this might not be quite legitimate if they’re saying all the money it receives is going to the charity or the cause,” says Thomas.
By Kevin McManus