Beware of relief scams after Oklahoma tornado, warns AG Cooper
Release date: 5/21/2013
Scammers known to pose as charities following disasters
Raleigh: Make sure any money you donate to help with tornado relief in Oklahoma goes to disaster victims rather than scam artists, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible storm in Oklahoma, but unfortunately some heartless scammers will see this disaster as an opportunity to line their own pockets,” Cooper said. “Don’t let phony charities divert your money from where you intend it to go. Do your homework before you give to make sure your donation does the most good possible.”
While Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division has not yet received complaints from North Carolina consumers about fraudulent fundraising efforts for tornado relief, previous natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes have spawned such scams.
Cooper encouraged North Carolinians to give generously but to watch for charity scams. Consumers can report potential scams to the Attorney General’s office by calling 1-877- 5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint
To avoid scams and make sure your donations go to legitimate charities
- Watch out for pushy telemarketers. Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you are usually up to no good. Also, some telemarketers keep up to 90 percent of the money they collect for charities. Your money will go further if you give directly to the real charity, not to hired fundraisers.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give. Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be an example of phishing. The messages may include links to copycat web sites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors.
- Be careful of social networking posts asking you to donate. The cause may sound worthy, but you have no way of verifying how your money would really be used.
- Watch out for fake charities that sound real. Some scammers use names that are very close to the names of real charities, non-profits or even law enforcement agencies. If you want to donate, contact the real charity or organization at a website or phone number you know to be valid.
- Don’t give cash. Cash gifts can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card. If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser.
- Protect your personal information. Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who contacts you, for any reason.
- Say no to high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won’t push you to give on the spot.
- If you want to give to charity, do your homework first. Visit www.give.org to see if national charities meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and www.charitywatch.org for ratings of charities by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Other good sources of information are www.guidestar.org and www.charitynavigator.org.
Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413