In a time of national crisis like Hurricane Harvey, our natural instincts are to feel compassion and want to help. Our hearts surely go out to all those affected and who will be dealing with the challenges ahead for a long time. That said, we urge you to be cautious and to do your homework before making disaster relief donations.
“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 Harvey. 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.”
There are certain red-flags that should alert you to the likelihood you’re being duped by a bogus charity. Review the following checklist when dealing with a possible charity to ensure you aren’t being scammed:
- Do not give out personal information such as credit card or bank account numbers over the phone.
- Checks should always be made payable to the organization, not the person collecting the donation.
- 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
- 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. You cannot be sure that your gift will be used as intended, plus donations to individuals are not tax deductible. Instead, look for online giving campaigns that benefit charitable organizations assisting a larger number of people.• 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. Anyone who thinks they may have been contacted by a scammer should call the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or go to the Oregon Department of Justice web site: www.oregonconsumer.gov.