BEND, OR -- Between the floods and fires sweeping America right now, there are plenty of people in need, but scammers feed on the naive in times of tragedy.
Steven Mayer of the Better Business Bureau and BBB Wise Giving Alliance, suggests that donors ensure they know where their money is going, not just fund any charity with a good story. "If you're looking to donate, we really want people to make sure they vet the groups, the charities, the foundations they're donating to. So, instead of pouring over tax documents and doing all this research on your own, we've done it for you, just go to Give.org and there you can type in the name of the group you want to give to, or find suggestions of ones if you don't have any picked out already. And we've already done all the work to make sure your money is actually going to those in need."
Mayer says there are so many easy ways to give - crowd funding and donation buttons on social media - but it can be difficult to properly vet a charitable organization and be sure it's not a scam. "Even some crowd-funding sites can be a bit unscrupulous at this point, so really give directly to those approved organizations. We're really encouraging people to give to groups that are already there, already set up, they have boots on the ground, they have volunteers out there, helping people get out of the affected areas, getting them the food, and water, and shelter that they need."
Give.org has a list of twenty reputable charities for your donations and has been designed to help you know which are the right charities to choose that will do the most good with your money. Mayer suggests that if a charity you've been approached by isn't on the Give.org list, they might be a scam. "Scammers, they've set up fake donation pages, so if you are going to be donating through crowd-funding, you want to know exactly what your money is going to be spent on. We still encourage people to stick to crowd-funding sites that they know the person directly who set that up, so you can trust that person, cuz it's so easy these days to set up a fake site and just scam people out of their money."
Mayer also suggests another way to foil scammers is by waiting a few months to donate when the furor dies down, but the need is still there.