(WKRG) — It’s natural to want to help when we see images of people losing their homes, their pets, even their loved ones during a natural disaster. But scammers keep a close eye on the news and will create fake charities in order to swindle you out of money.
“The main thing is to find out the history of the organization and their history of response to natural disasters,” says Tyloris Crenshaw with the Better Business Bureau.
That includes asking a charity who the money will benefit and how much will go to relief efforts and how much goes to administration or fundraising expenses. You can find out a lot by going to the website CharityNavigator.Org. There, they tell you how transparent the organization is, and how much of their expenses go toward the services they provide.
The Better Business Bureau also recommends the website Give.Org.
“Reviews charities with some of the same standards that we do accredited businesses to make sure that they are legitimate and that the money is going to where it’s supposed to go,” says Crenshaw.
GoFundMe has a designated link where money donated will go directly to verified gofundme accounts.
Folks should be on guard against phone calls, emails, links on social media, and people going door to door.
“You’re going to get an influx of scam emails. The big thing you want to take into consideration right now is to actually go to the website of the organization that you want to donate to,” says Kristina Barrett with the Computer Crew.
Officials say it’s better to donate to charities you know, like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and the Humane Society.
And beware of scammers creating charities that look or sound like other reputable charities. But don’t be intimidated into not donating.
“The big thing is, don’t hold back from doing it if that’s truly what you’re calling is, but at the same time, be smart about it,” says Barrett.
You can also donate to your local church if they’re collecting items or funds.