Five Ways to Avoid Wildfire Donation Scams

September 15, 2020
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Scam Alert

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wants the public to be aware of a potential for charitable scams as wildfires continue to burn across the state of Oregon.

“The ongoing wildfires in Oregon are tragic and many are suffering. Kind and generous Oregonians are stepping up to help out by making donations,” said AG Rosenblum. “Unfortunately, we know there are some bad actors out there who will try to prosper off any disaster. I encourage Oregonians to give, but I want to help make sure your donations get to the right place and are used for their intended purpose.”

To help with that, several of Oregon’s leading charities have joined together to create the 2020 Community Rebuilding Fund.  Oregonians are encouraged to give to that organization or to similar organizations they know are actively involved in relief efforts, including local United Ways in the counties that have been most impacted by the wildfires. For more information on how to give to the 2020 Community Rebuilding Fund, please visit https://oregoncf.org/oregon-wildfire-relief-recovery/.

If you are interested in other giving options, give wisely and avoid potential scams by following these five tips:
  1. Do your research.
    There are more than 1 million charities registered with the IRS. Find the best charities for you by visiting one of the following websites:
    Guide Star
    Charity Navigator
    Better Business Bureau
  2.  Only give to registered charities.
    Before you give, check the Oregon Department of Justice database or call 971-673-1880 to confirm the organization is properly registered with the Oregon Department of Justice.
  3. Monetary donations are usually preferred.
    Organizations can usually accomplish the most with financial donations. Managing and storing gifts of clothing, food, and household items can often strain limited resources. Before donating those kinds of supplies, check in with the organization to make sure they can make use of those donations. Monetary gifts are always appreciated.
  4. Be wary of telephone, email or door to door solicitations.
    Some scam artists may take advantage of current circumstances by soliciting you in these ways. Resist high-pressure appeals for donations and don’t send cash or respond to requests to purchase and send gift cards.
  5. Remember that not all gifts are tax-deductible.
    Only gifts to charities that have IRS 501(c)(3) status are tax-deductible. Check the IRS website to ensure your gift is to a qualified organization. Make sure the charity provides written confirmation of your donation. Then keep your records. Gifts to individuals through GoFundMe and similar platforms are not tax-deductible.

For additional giving tips, please visit https://www.doj.state.or.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/wise_giving_guide.pdf. If you have concerns about a solicitation, please file a complaint online or call the Charitable Activities Section at 971-673-1880.