Watch your giving

Published 2:17 pm Monday, October 1, 2018

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Though it’s commendable to helping local organizations that are contributing to Hurricane Florence relief, we want to temper that with some caution about organizations that may be less than reputable.

Local groups you’re familiar with, who are working with partners in the areas damaged by the storm, are the best bet when it comes to disaster donations. There are many excellent regional and national charities, as well.

But it seems in the aftermath of every storm, scams and bogus “charities” pop up to steal money from well-meaning contributors, making them financial victims of the storm when they only wanted to help.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring offered the following tips to help keep yourself financially safe and keep your money either in your own pocket or directed to legitimate charities:

  • On crowdfunding sites, check the creator or page owner’s credentials and try to confirm its authenticity and seriousness.
  • Look for indicators of endorsement or legitimacy that the page is actually collecting donations for a particular victim or organization.
  • If you feel uneasy, contribute to a more established charity in the community.
  • Be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with a current event or natural disaster.
  • Only give to charities and fundraisers you can confirm are reliable and legitimate. Find out how much of your donation will go to the charity’s programs and services.
  • Beware of “copy-cat” names that closely resemble reputable charities.
  • Be especially cautious if you do not initiate the contact with the charity.
  • Do not be pressured into giving.
  • Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number.
  • Avoid cash donations.
  • If contributing over the Internet, be sure the website you are visiting belongs to the charity to which you want to donate.