Tips to safely donate to Bronx fire victims without being scammed

TREMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- In the wake of the devastating fire in the Bronx, many people are doing whatever they can to help.

7 On Your Side has tips on how to make sure those donations get to those who need it most.

Clothing, blankets, shoes and food are being collected by grassroots community group the Gambian Youth Organization, around the corner from the devastating fire in the Tremont area of the Bronx, which left many survivors without basic necessities.

In less than 24-hours, the youth group raised $514,439 shattering its GoFundMe goal of $200,000. Donations range from as little as $5 to one top donor giving $3,000.

Organizers are pledging to distribute all the funds to the families affected.

ALSO READ | What residents did to survive the deadly Bronx high rise fire



New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also announced a victim compensation fund and and Sen. Chuck Schumer pledged help on the federal level for issues likes immigration assistance to reunite families.

Twenty-two families, including 56 adults and 25 children, were housed overnight, according to the Red Cross, which is set up at the city's OEM walk-in relief center at Monroe College Utica Hall from noon to 8 p.m.

Red Cross case workers will register affected residents and assist with hotels, hot food and counseling for traumatized survivors and will continue to help with health services and emergency housing for those impacted.

Charitynavigator.org's CEO Michael Thatcher also reminds New Yorker's wishing to help to check non-profit ratings before reaching into your wallet. A little research will show you how your donation gets spent and if a charity is properly registered and it's track record.

"Our hearts are open when something terrible happens to fellow humans and we want to do something about it -- people are preying on that," Thatcher said.

And remember, don't donate through robocalls. Those wishing to help should understand that many charitable groups are too busy on the ground right now and rarely do outreach, so if you get an unsolicited call or text, it could be a scam.

Get the name of the group and check it out before moving forward with a donation. Beware of lookalike websites and never volunteer your bank account information, Paypal, Zelle or any other payment app username or password.

If you'd like to help the victims of the Tremont fire check out this list we've compiled of charities accepting donations from clothes and food to money donations.

People can also contribute to the NYC's Mayor's fund to Advance New York City by donating online or by calling 3-1-1. This will enable the distribution of emergency relief supplies, and assure 100% of your donation goes toward helping those impacted by the fire.

The HelpNYC Disaster Relief Response website has been activated. Victims and those affected can find support and resources like burial assistance.

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S WARNING:



New York Attorney General Letitia James is also warning that some scam artists might try to cash in on the tragedy.

James reminded New Yorkers to beware of fake charities that may be created as a front for fraud.

Many scammers use crises to set up these charities and divert donations so that they never reach the intended recipients.

"In moments of tragedy, New Yorkers are quick to offer support, donations, and strength to those in need, but too often, individuals take advantage of that kindness," said James. "As we look to aid those who were impacted by the horrific fire in the Bronx yesterday, we must be vigilant and ensure that victims receive each and every donation that is intended for them.

James offered the following tips when donating to those impacted by the fire:

-Check before giving
-Ask how your donation will be used
-Look into newly formed organizations carefully
-Solicited by email? Find out who is soliciting
-Be careful when giving through social media or other fundraising sites
-Exercise caution before you text a contribution
-Don't give cash
-Be careful about personal information
-Report suspicious organizations

The attorney general's charities bureau has resources to use when verifying a charity's status before donating.

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