CONSUMER ALERT: Following Harvey, Giver Take Caution
August 30, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansans have seen the horrible photos and videos showing the devastation from Hurricane Harvey to our neighbors and friends in Houston and across south east Texas and want to help. But giver beware. Many times following natural disasters, the Attorney General’s office receives reports of unscrupulous “charities” targeting Arkansans knowing that we will offer help to those in need.
These con artists will tug at the heartstrings of giving people in hopes money will be turned over in support of whatever cause the criminals are using. The scammers provide as little information as possible about their “organization,” while still trying to convince potential donors about the legitimacy of the “charity” that will help those who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“Many of these fake organizations will pick a name and logo that is similar to an existing, legitimate organization that is helping those in need in Texas,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans must stay diligent, do their research on charities and know how their money will be used.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers give to only legitimate charities:
- If you receive a phone solicitation for donations, do not 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.
Also be wary of charities that pop up quickly in response to Hurricane Harvey. Even if they are legitimate, they oftentimes do not have a system in place to get donations to those in need. Consider giving to an established organization which helps disaster victims in the area.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.