Watching Out For Charity Scams, Hurricane Matthew Edition

The clouds of Hurricane Matthew

Photo: Shutterstock

Hurricane Matthew wrought havoc throughout the Caribbean and the American southeast, and a lot of people want to help those who have been affected by its passing. However, with any large-scale disaster or tragedy, there are those who want to take advantage of that charitable spirit for their own profit; therefore, it’s time to give some tips to help you protect yourself from “donating” to a scam.

In general, you should know about the nonprofit to which you’re thinking of donating. This is important in times like this, but it also a good idea in general. Do some research, and find out if the charity in question existed before the disaster. It’s not always a surefire way to know if a charity is fraudulent, as legitimate nonprofits do spring up in response to tragedies, but it can help you determine what else you need to learn about them. And for the record, just because an organization has been around for years doesn’t mean it isn’t fraudulent.

Charities have to be registered somewhere, usually with the state in which they operate and certainly with the IRS. In New York, for example, they have to be registered with the Charities Bureau, something that the state’s Attorney General has been talking about quite a lot lately. If you can’t track down a record of the organization being registered somewhere, don’t donate.

Be wary of any organization that doesn’t share how they spend donated funds. It doesn’t have to be a detailed outline of exact costs, but as long as an organization tells its donors what they spend money on, like rebuilding homes or buying water for people, that’s a step in the right direction. If a group doesn’t share an information about how thy spend funds, they’re most likely fraudulent.

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