Attorney General Gary King sent out a news release today warning against “groups and individuals who may try to take advantage of the situation to profit through fraudulent fundraising schemes.”
To make sure your money’s going where it should, check with the AG online or go to charitynavigator.org, charityguide.org, bbb.org/charity.
Or, if you prefer, you can call the attorney general at 1-800-678-1508 and ask for the Charities Unit.
Further cautions from King:
Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion. The hard luck tale is a favorite ploy of a phony operator. A legitimate charity will be specific about how it is using your money to address this disaster.
Ask lots of questions. How much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fundraiser? Ask who employs the telephone solicitor, if your contribution is tax deductible and what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions that might remain after the victims' needs are addressed.
Beware of professional fundraisers who try to make their solicitations sound like they are coming directly from the charity itself or volunteers.
Do not pay by cash. Pay by check, and make it out to the charity (use its full name; don't use initials), not the fundraiser. Never give your credit card number to a fundraiser over the telephone. If the fundraiser directly approaches you, ask to see identification. It is best to mail your check directly to the charity.
If you are contributing over the Internet, make sure that the website you are visiting belongs to a legitimate, established, and registered charity. See if other legitimate Web sites provide links to that Web site. Also, make sure the site is secure and will offer protection for your credit card number.