However, if something new comes up, a caller asking for a donation to flood victims in Louisiana, be careful. Scammers exploit tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity.
The Federal Trade Commission urges consumers to be cautious of potential charity scams. Do research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.
Consider these tips from the FTC when asked to give:
- Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record in dealing with disasters.
- Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Designate the disaster so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
- Never click on links or open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it. You could install malware on your computer.
- Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself.
- When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations aren’t immediate. It can take as long as 90 days for the charity to receive the funds.
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If they should be registered, but they're not, consider donating through another charity.
To learn more, go to Charity Scams.