In a time of national crisis like Hurricane Ian, our natural instincts are to feel compassion and want to help. Before donating to Hurricane Ian relief funds, those eager to assist should be aware of scams and fraudulent charities, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum warned.
“Disasters that attract national attention are often used by scammers to create fake charities and crowdfunding campaigns to rip off people who want to support a worthy cause,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “They did it after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, and they will try once again after Hurricane Ian. If you’re looking for a way to give, do your research to ensure your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised – and as you intend.”
Thankfully, the State of Florida has an official private fund established to provide financial assistance to communities as they respond to and recover from times of emergency or disaster, like Hurricane Ian. To contribute to the Florida Disaster Fund, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.
Before you donate to a charity like the Florida Disaster Fund, review the following checklist to ensure you are not being duped by a bogus charity:
- Beware of callers who want your money fast. When solicited by phone, always ask the caller to send you written materials about the charity. No legitimate organization will insist that you donate immediately.
- Checks should always be made payable to the organization, not the person collecting the donation.
- Do not donate cash. Legitimate charities will be pleased to receive a contribution by check. Don’t send contributions with a “runner,” by wire or overnight parcel pick-up service.
- Be cautious before giving to individuals raising money through crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe. You cannot be sure that your gift will be used as intended, plus donations to individuals are not tax deductible.
- Be sure you are contributing to a legitimate organization registered with the Oregon Department of Justice by searching the Department’s online database at https://www.doj.state.or.us/charitable-activities/ or by calling 971-673-1880. You can also visit www.guidestar.org, a national clearinghouse of information about charities and their performance.
The Oregon Department of Justice, a national leader in policing charities, licenses and regulates more than 20,000 non-profits. To learn more, visit the Oregon Department of Justice’s Charitable Activities Section online at https://www.doj.state.or.us/charitable-activities/. To file a complaint about a charitable organization or solicitation, visit https://justice.oregon.gov/Charities/Complaint.