First and foremost, our hearts go out to those who have suffered through hurricane Harvey. We grieve for their suffering, and celebrate the unparalleled level of humanity and compassion shown by all of those who have tried to alleviate the suffering. Then there are the ones who aim to make a buck off just about any natural disaster. We can’t in good conscience use the vocabulary that applies to those people, but we can offer you a warning so that your good heart doesn’t turn into a drained bank account or misplaced funds.
Specific Charity Scams
Whenever a tragedy such as a natural disaster takes place, charity scams pop up by the hundreds. They claim to put a significant portion of the donations received into helping those in need due to the event. In this case, it happens to be Harvey. Avoid charities that are specific to Harvey and instead, donate to those you know and trust. Charitable organizations are well aware of the natural disasters and are more likely to have plans in place to help out.
One easy way to learn if a charitable entity is legitimate is to search for them on sites like the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
Avoid Donating to Individuals
Some, seemingly out of the goodness of their hearts, may try to set up a call for donations on sites like Facebook. Unless you know them personally, don’t take the chance. It’s easy enough to change your location on Facebook so that it looks like you’re in one place while you really live in another.
Don’t Click on Links
If you get an email soliciting you for funds, treat it just like you would treat a scammer who came to your door. Don’t touch anything or initiate a conversation. Just shut the door (or email) without interacting or clicking on anything. These links can be dangerous and lead to sharing more of your personal and financial information than is safe.
Confirm Phone Numbers
If you receive a text asking you for donations, it may appear to come from a well-known organization, like the Red Cross. Be sure to confirm that the phone number is accurate before you respond to the text or send any money. It is possible for funds to be collected via your phone bill through texts, and if this is the method you choose, make sure it goes where you want it to go.
We know your heart is in the right place, but not everyone’s is. Just take the time to check things out before you find that your money isn’t helping anyone but an unethical scammer.