Be Cautious When Helping With International Disasters
April 30, 2015
recent report in AtlasofGiving.com ranks Arkansas as one of the top 10 states for charitable giving in 2014, and many Arkansans will continue that trend by helping those in Nepal who are suffering in the aftermath of last Saturday’s devastating earthquake.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage Arkansans who are looking for ways to help the Himalayan region to be cautious when donating to relief efforts.
“Scammers often prey on charitable people,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Con artists exploit our generosity with new versions of old schemes, but Arkansans should arm themselves with the knowledge to tell a reputable nonprofit organization from a charity scam.”
To make sure that your donation fulfills its intended purpose, Attorney General Rutledge suggests taking the following steps before donating:
- If you receive a phone or door-to-door solicitation for donations, don’t immediately get out your checkbook or credit card. High-pressure sales tactics are a red flag that you may be dealing with an unscrupulous charity.
- Do your research. Get the organization’s name, address, website and phone number, or give directly to a known nonprofit of your choice. Make sure the nonprofit organization is registered with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
- Use GuideStar.org to compare nonprofit organizations and to get more information.
- Ask the organization how it will spend your donation.
- Watch out for similar but different organization names as some con artists will use names like those of existing, reputable nonprofits in order to trick consumers.
- Do not give out financial or personal information over the phone or through email to an unknown entity. This information could fall into the wrong hands, or the scammers could use it to steal your money or identity.
- Never send cash. Make check or credit card payments for increased security and tax purposes.
- If you wish to donate through a text message, verify the organization’s number before doing so.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake that did wide-ranging damage especially in the capital city of Kathmandu is the worst to hit the country in 80 years. The death toll is reported to be over 5,000 people with more than 9,200 injured.
For more information on charitable scams, to check the status of a specific nonprofit organization, or to look into an organization’s financial reports, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office Public Protection Division at (800) 482-8982.