Attorney General Doug Peterson reminds Nebraskans to donate wisely and avoid charity scams following Hurricane Harvey.With today’s technology, charitable giving is more prevalent than ever, especially in the wake of a natural disaster. But, those same advances pose unique challenges for well-intentioned donors.
Following a few simple steps can help ensure that donations from Nebraska reach those in need:
• Carefully evaluate the charity before making a donation. Resources such as Charity Navigator,GuideStar, IRS Select Check, the National Center for Charitable Statistics, and the BBB Wise Giving Allianceall provide information about established charities.
• Don’t fall for imposters.Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes these sound-alike names are designed to confuse donors.If you receive an email, telephone call, or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity, and not an imposter, by contacting the charity or visiting its website before making the donation. Be especially wary of unsolicited emails that contain attachments or links to websites, as they may download harmful malware onto your computer.
• Be cautious when donating to a recently-formed charity. These organizations have less experience handling donations, especially those intended to assist with a natural disaster.
• Ask questions. Contact the charity to ask how your donation will be used for disaster relief. If they cannot give you answers, consider donating elsewhere.
• Use peer-to-peer fundraising platforms carefully. Watch for hidden fees and make sure you know how your personal information may be used after you donate. When possible, make your donation payable to a charitable organization and not a specific person.
• Get permission and all the details before raising money on behalf of a charity or individual. Contact the charity or individual beforehand to get permission and determine how and where donations should be sent. This will also provide you with an opportunity to confirm that any representations you’ll be making are truthful.
“These resources should be considered before contributing,” Peterson said. “I know many Nebraskans want to generously reach out and help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, but before providing any information or contribution, they will want to make certain they are working with a reputable charitable organization that will make certain contributions go directly to those who need the most help."
Those who suspect a charity scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov or 800-727-6432.
Additional giving tips may be found on the Attorney General’s website at https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/donations.