Horrible events like a hurricane causing massive damage to a city or region tend to bring out the very best in humanity.
Millions of generous individuals and companies typically donate billions of dollars in relief funds for the storm victims.
What’s more, armies of volunteers travel to the affected areas, with more waiting to go in just as soon as they receive approval from officials.
But unfortunately, natural disasters of this scale also tend to bring plenty of scammers of out of the woodwork.
With all the pleas for donations going around it can be difficult to tell the legitimate relief organizations from the scammers.
Most everyone is familiar with the types of assistance provided by the Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse, but there are hundreds of other organizations and individuals out there competing for your generous donations.
Luckily, there are several ways to ensure that your money doesn’t end up in the hands of a scammer:
1 – You can simply opt to donate to an organization you’re already familiar with and trust completely.
As with most every other endeavor in life, past performance of a relief organization is a pretty good indicator of how they’ll perform in the future.
2 – ALWAYS donate to an organization directly by visiting their official website or calling a known-good phone number.
NEVER respond to anyone that contacts you from out-of-the-blue via telephone, email or social media claiming to be collecting donations on behalf of a well-known charity.
3 – If you’d like to give a smaller organization a chance to help (and there’s nothing wrong with that), check them out thoroughly by typing their name into the search boxes on Charity Navigator and/or the Better Business Bureau to view their ratings from those organizations.
If they are rated poorly or simply don’t show up when you perform the search, it could well be a scam operation.
4 – If you see an ad soliciting relief donations on a social media site, be especially wary.
We all know from recent events that it’s incredibly easy for scammers to post fraudulent ads on social media.
Bottom line: It’s a wonderful thing to want to help those in need. Just remember that “donations” sent to a scammer will help no one that truly needs and deserves your help!
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