Donate Wisely - Beware of Scams

Sadly there are some people out there who take advantages of the kindness of others. Right now, with the Hurricane Harvey destruction, is a prime time for scammers to be active. It is important for you to understand how to donate wisely. Beware of the scams so that when you can donate monetarily to the victims that you know the money will be used for them and not just be put into a scammer’s pocket.

If you feel you see a fraudulent charitable contribution scheme please report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721

Tips For Donating Wisely

  • Only donate money to reputable charities
    See list below for suggestions.
  • Research the Charity
    Take a few minutes to do some research on the charity you are considering donating money to.  Some sites where you can research charities are: Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar.
  • Avoid donation jars and boxes at small stores
    Sadly, many people take advantage of local small store owners and ask to put up donation boxes and say it is for a charitable cause. It is not the store owners’ fault, but some of these are scams and just ways for people to collect cash under false pretenses.
  • Use Caution Even With Friends Social Media Donation Links
    While your friend may have the best intention by sharing a link, it may, unknowingly to them, be a scam. You are better off going directly to the charity you want to donate to.
  • Make Sure Online Donation Pages Are Secure
    If you are donating online make sure the site is secure and your information is encrypted.
  • Be Careful of Emails Asking for Donations
    Phishing email scams are common. These scams use the images from legitimate charities to make them look real in the email and on the landing page but they are actually linking to their own sites to scam donation money.
  • What Percentage of Donations Go To Cause
    There will be many that will say a “donation is made for every purchase” or “proceeds go to”. Find out what percentage that is. There are some places that will donate, but the fraction is tiny and it really is just a way for them to increase their own profit.
  • Get a Receipt
    Legitimate charities will give you a receipt with no problem.
  • Be Careful of Copycat Charity Names
    Many will use a charity name that sounds very similar to reputable charities.
  • Question Telephone Calls Requesting Donations
    Ask the caller if they are doing this as a part of a paid fundraiser and if so what percentage of the donation goes to the actual charity.
  • Avoid Donation Sweepstakes Scams
    If you are guaranteed to win something in exchange for a contribution avoid altogether.
  • Understand Tax Deductible versus Tax Exempt
    Exempt just means that organization is exempt from certain taxes. Deductible means your donation is deductible off your own taxes. Scammers and groups trying to profit from disasters may try to trick you by using “tax exempt”

Reputable Charities

Here are a few reputable charities that are all working to help the people and communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Remember that we all still need to give when we can, we just need to be safe about doing it.