The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection wants you to beware of donation scams following the devastation in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, aka Typhoon Yolanda.
Hawaii’s Attorney General issued a news release urging Hawaii residents to be cautious when making donations:
You can check to see if a charitable organization is registered in Hawaii by going to the attorney general’s website at: http://ag.hawaii.gov/tax/
The Federal Trade Commission also has a number of tips you should consider when making a donation to a charitable organization:
- Donate to charities you know and trust. You want to find a charity with a proven track record with dealing with these disasters.
- Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Designate the disaster. Charities may give the option to designate your giving to a specific disaster. That way, you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
- Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
- Beware of offers of prizes. If an organization offers the promise of a guaranteed win of a sweepstakes, it’s very possible you could be dealing with a scam. Donating to a charitable cause is never a prerequisite to winning a sweepstakes prize.
- Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
- Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.