WASHINGTON, D.C. – As District residents and other Americans donate money to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the horrific floods that resulted from it, Attorney General Karl A. Racine is warning District residents to use caution when choosing where to send their money.
“When natural disasters occur, many of us want to lend a helping hand to the victims. Unfortunately, these events often draw out fake-charity scammers who prey on the generosity of District residents and other Americans – and Harvey is no different,” Attorney General Racine said. “But there are several steps consumers can take to ensure that they are donating to a legitimate charity.”
Here are steps that Attorney General Racine and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Office of Consumer Protection recommend to ensure you are donating to a legitimate charity for disaster relief. These steps apply to other charitable causes as well:
- When giving, make your donation to an organization you are familiar with or a charity with a record of helping with disaster relief.
- Verify the charity you are donating to is legitimate. There are a number of independent online sources you can use to verify that a charity is legitimate, including the following:
- Stay away from suspicious donation requests. The following are warning signs that should tell you to avoid making a contribution to a suspicious charity:
- Aggressive soliciting for a donation;
- Demands for payment via a money order or cash (rather than checks or credit cards);
- The organization’s name and logo closely resemble another charity.
Charity Scam Resources and Complaints
For more information about charity scams and tips to avoid such scams, Attorney General Racine urges consumers to review OAG’s consumer education flyer (available in English and Spanish here). The flyer can be downloaded and reproduced by community groups. Consumers with complaints about a bogus charity, or any other consumer complaint, can contact OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection through the OAG Consumer Hotline at (202) 442-9828, by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or online using OAG’s Consumer Complaint Form.