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State Attorney General on How to Avoid Hurricane Dorian Relief Scams

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 15:13

Hurricane Dorian left much destruction in its wake, and while the urge to help is great, New York State Attorney General Letitia James has offered some tips to ensure that donors are giving to reputable relief organizations. 

“The destruction that Hurricane Dorian wreaked across the Bahamas is nothing short of a true humanitarian crisis – entire communities underwater, homes completely destroyed, and lives tragically lost," Ms. James said in a statement urging New Yorkers "to be prudent when assessing what organizations to donate to."

"Sadly," she said, "bad actors too often take advantage of catastrophic events to scam generous individuals. New Yorkers and donors everywhere should direct their donations to organizations that they know and trust.”

Ms. James said donors should give only to charities with which they are familiar. Most charities are required to register and file financial reports with the Attorney General's Charities Bureau if they solicit contributions from New York residents. The website charitiesnys.com offers such financial reports of charities for public viewing. Even so, always ask how your donation will be used, the statement said. 

In the aftermath of tragedies, new organizations are established to assist victims. "While some of those organizations may be doing just that, others turn out to be scams," the statement said. "Before making a contribution to a new organization, find out who is running it and how it plans to use donations."

Social media sites are often used to collect donations, but the attorney general said to be vigilant about finding out who is behind fund-raising efforts before giving. Texting contributions has also become a popular way to give, but a call ahead to confirm that a charity has authorized contributions by text is advised. And rather than giving cash, give directly to a charity either by check made payable to the organization or through the charity's website.

As always, be careful about personal information, Ms. James said. Avoid giving credit card or personal information over the phone or by text message. 

Donors can report suspicious organizations to the Charities Bureau at [email protected].

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