Storm scam warning: Best ways to help out and avoid getting ripped off

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Friday, September 30, 2022
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Nina Pineda has what to know to avoid falling for a donation scam.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As Hurricane Ian makes its way up the coast, the Better Business Bureau is warning to watch out for donation scams related to the disaster.

7 On Your Side has the ways to donate safety without getting ripped off.

Immediate needs like food, shelter and water for victims of hurricanes Fiona and Ian will be met by charities with boots on the ground now -- both large and small.

So, look for charities with a disaster appeal that is clear.

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance recommends giving to experienced relief organizations which are accredited like The American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Local charities which already have support staff in impacted areas can also deliver help quickly and are relying on donations for critical supplies.

Before reaching into your wallet, see if the contribution request clearly identifies what disaster relief activity you are actually supporting.

Check if you can specify which event and for what you want your money to go to, like temporary housing or medical care.

Always check out the charity first -- the BBB's give.org lists nonprofits which meet 20 Charity standards.

Charity Navigator vets and rates charities in its database of every registered us based charity.so you can give with confidence.

"Take enough time that you're giving to an organization that's going to make a difference," said Michael Thatcher with CharityNavigator.org.

Thatcher advises to slow it down--there is an urgency that comes with natural disasters but recovery will take years, so you have time to ask:

-Where is the charity located?

-What is phone number & address?

-What is the website address?

-Is the charity registered?

"Our hearts are open when something happens to fellow human and people are preying on that," Thatcher said.

Unfortunately scams follow tragedy. Some red flags include when solicitors start calling, texting or using banner ads on social media.

Or if you get a request for cash only or gift card codes.

Other red flags include aggressive phone reps reassuring for immediate payment or phone calls or texts that play on emotions.

"They're going to prey on you and say you got to do something right now, help me and this organization that's going to help this person or this entity," Thatcher said.

Remember, if the solicitor can't provide details, hang up and look it up before donating.

RELATED | How to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian

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