In the wake of disasters such as Hurricane Dorian, it is common for new charities aimed at disaster relief to crop up. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody advises donors to be mindful while giving to unfamiliar disaster relief charities.
“We want to encourage those that want to give and help. Lives were lost, property was destroyed, it's so important that we help our neighbors,” Moody said.
“At the same time… there are often people that want to take advantage and scam Floridians and take their hard-earned money when they're just trying to help.”
While sending money is usually the most efficient way to help, Moody urges people to make sure the charity is legitimate before donating.
“Avoid solicitors using high pressure tactics that persuade you to give, determine whether a charity is legitimate by visiting Charity Navigator.org, and make sure that, when you’re evaluating what charity to give to, you’re asking questions,” Moody said.
If you are worried that a charity that has contacted you is illegitimate, Moody’s website includes tips on how to recognize scams and the steps to take if you believe you are being scammed.
Among the recommendations: check if the charity is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, request information about how donations are spent, and never give credit card number or bank account information to a caller on the phone or someone who sent you an unsolicited email.
Moody also encourages people to call her office’s hotline, 1-866-9NO-SCAM.