Beware of charity scams in the aftermath of Harvey

(WTNH) — Feet of rain and massive flooding as virtually the entire city of Houston is under water. As thousands of people are forced from their homes, shelters are overcrowded and the need for help is growing.

Howard Schwartz with the Connecticut Better Business Bureau says it’s natural for people to want to pitch in. But, before you break out your wallet, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a charity.

“Charity is a multi-victim crime. You’ve got scammers, criminals, scam artists stealing money from the donors, but they’re also stealing it from the victims. So, you’ve got to ask yourself at that point, should I be taking the extra moment to make sure I’m dealing with a legitimate charity?” said Schwartz.

The simple answer is yes. Schwartz says a good place to start is make sure you find the charity and the charity doesn’t find you.

“If we are supposed to be led to a charity from a link that says on social media you’re not really sure where you’re going exactly so you’ve got to be careful. It’s much better for you to find a charity than for someone to find you,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz also says you should use a credit card when making a donation that way if it turns out to be a scam, you can trace the donation and fight to get it back.

If you want to make sure your dollars go directly to the volunteers and victims in Texas, don’t give to a group that is raising money for another charity.

“Instead of reacting to an appeal for a donation from social media, email or a phone call, we should be looking ourselves for a reputable charity that we know is some charity that’s got experience, has their feet on the ground and knows how to distribute and collect money,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz cautions while the instinct might be to donate right away, with a disaster of such massive proportions the need for help will last long after the waters recede.

“Wait for a few days, study the situation, find out if there are any scam alerts that are out. It’s far better to wait to find to make sure that you’re dealing with a proper charity than it is to make a very generous but perhaps misguided decision to give to the first person who asks you,” said Schwartz.

For a complete list of tips from the BBB visit:


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