Make Sure Your Hurricane Harvey Donations Go to Victims — Not Scammers

Sam Speights moves around debris as he checks on the damage to his home in the wake of Hurricane Harvey
Sam Speights moves around debris as he checks on the damage to his home in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Rockport, Texas. Eric Gay/AP Photo

This past weekend, Hurricane Harvey rocked Texas.

Thousands of people were forced out of their homes as rising flood waters destroyed nearly everything they owned.

More than a dozen people lost their lives.

As the death toll climbs and the devastation spreads, many of us who were not impacted by the storm want to help.

Unfortunately, scammers see our desire to help others in need as an opportunity to get easy cash and run. That shouldn’t stop you from giving, but it does mean you need to be more careful.

Donating After Hurricane Harvey? Here’s How to Avoid Scams

Consumerist has a few surefire ways to give money after Hurricane Harvey and know that it’s getting to the victims who need it.

1. Know Where Your Money Is Going

If a charity calls you and asks for donations to help Hurricane Harvey victims, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the person calling you if they are a paid fundraiser or a volunteer. Get information about the organization they work for, and ask how it will use your donation.

Then, call the charity to find out if the company the caller said they work for does, in fact, collect money for it.

Finally, use the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to investigate a charity before you give.

If everything checks out OK, feel free to give to that charity. If not, find somewhere else to send your money.

2. Never Send Cash

Cash is tough to track and easy to steal. If a charity you’ve never heard of is more than eager to collect cash, be wary and consider a charity that accepts credit card payments instead.

If you’re donating online, make sure you are on a secure website before entering your credit card information. Look for a lock icon in the address bar and a URL that starts with “https” instead of “http.”

3. Trust Your Gut

Did someone call to thank you for your pledge and ask for a credit card number to collect the payment?

If you don’t recall making the pledge, don’t feel obligated to give. Decline to pay for now, but get the name of the charity and the fundraising company the caller works for so you can verify the charity’s legitimacy. Once you verify it’s legit, you can always give later.

Also, while it’s possible that legitimate grassroots fundraisers can crop up overnight on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, be wary of solicitations from charities you’ve never heard of.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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