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Don’t get scammed making your Hurricane Harvey donation

Scammers come out of the woodwork when disaster strikes to prey on the kindhearted. New York's AG has tips for spotting them.
Here's how not to get scammed when opening your wallet to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Here's how not to get scammed when opening your wallet to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of people are in desperate need of help after Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking rain caused massive flooding throughout Texas and the Gulf Coast.

While many states, such as New York, are sending physical help, millions of others are looking to help monetarily, which will certainly come in handy as rescue and recovery efforts continue.

But alongside those good Samaritans, unfortunately, come scammers looking to make a quick buck off all those open wallets.

“There are always some who attempt to take advantage of a tragedy to line their own pockets at the expense of those who are truly in need,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement Wednesday.

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In an effort to educate New Yorkers and others who want to give to charitable organizations helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey, here are a few tips Schneiderman suggests:

• Research the organization

Make sure you are familiar with it, its mission and effectiveness before donating. Always seek information in writing, and be wary if it does not provide info about its programs and finances if asked. Visit CharitiesNYS.com to see if it’s registered or to learn more.

• Know where your dollars go

Ask what the charity will do with your donation – and excess money it may raise as well. The organization’s financial reports will have information about donation spending. And again, be wary if the organization does not give specifics if asked.

• Seek out established organizations

Make your donation to charities you recognize or that have experience in assisting in disaster relief, such as that for Hurricane Harvey. Research ones that have popped up in the wake of Harvey before giving.

• Use caution with telephone solicitations

Phone solicitors often call on behalf of organizations registered with the Charities Bureau, and if you do want to make a donation through them, you should ask if the charity is registered and how much of their donation total will go to Hurricane Harvey relief. And don’t forget, you have the right to hang up if you don’t think it’s legit. 

• Check before you text

Verify via a charity’s website or by phone if it has authorized text message contributions. Often with text donations, the charity may not receive your donation until your phone bill is paid, so giving directly to the organization may be the faster way to help out. 

• If it's fishy, flag it

If you think you’ve spotted a scammer, contact the AG’s Charities Bureau at charities.complaints@ag.ny.gov or call 212-416-8401.

To find more of Schneiderman’s tips or to learn more about researching charities, visit ag.ny.gov.
 

 
 
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