Attorney General warns of Hurricane Harvey scams
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson reminds Nebraskans to donate wisely and avoid charities scams following Hurricane Harvey’s damage in Texas.
With today’s advances in technology, charitable giving is more prevalent than ever, Peterson said, especially in the wake of a natural disaster. Those same advances, though, pose unique challenges for well-intentioned donors, he noted.
“I know many Nebraskans want to generously reach out and help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, but before providing any information or contribution, make certain you are working with a reputable charitable organization that will make certain contributions go directly to those who need the most help,” stated Peterson.
He offered a few steps that can help ensure donations from Nebraska reach those in need:
Carefully evaluate the charity before making a donation. Resources including www.charitynavigator.org, www.guidestar.org, www.irs.gov, nccsweb.urban.org and www.give.org all provide information about established charities, Peterson said.
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,” said Peterson.
Those who suspect a charity scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at www.protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov or call 800-727-6432.