Consumer News

Consumer Alert: Use caution when directing disaster donations

Release Date: Aug 31, 2020

TOPEKA – (August 31, 2020) – In light of the devastating natural disasters striking across the United States, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt warns Kansans to be aware of possible scam artists seeking to profit from the generosity of others.

Residents have been in recovery mode in the wake of a hurricane that struck the Texas and Louisiana coast, powerful wind storms across Iowa and raging wildfires in western states. Schmidt warns Kansans who may be considering contributing to storm- or wildfire-relief efforts to make sure they are donating to a reputable charity and to specify that a charity uses donations for intended purposes.

“When natural disasters strike, generous Kansans offer to help,” Schmidt said. “But please donate wisely to established, legitimate disaster-relief charities.”  

Here are a few simple tips for donating, to avoid being scammed:

  • Make donations to established organizations with a strong track record of organizing and providing disaster relief.
  • Be careful with social media efforts to fundraise for storm and fire victims.
  • Initiate the donation yourself, rather than responding to online or phone solicitations. If you wish to make a donation online, go directly to the charity’s website; don’t just click a link to an unknown site.
  • Avoid door-to-door solicitors or offers from charities to stop by a consumer’s home to pick up a check. These too could be fraudulent.
  • Do not fall prey to high-pressure pitches from solicitors. Legitimate charities allow you time to think about how much — and when — you choose to donate.
  • Be wary of charities that ask for alternate forms of payment. Legitimate charities rarely if ever ask you to give by wire transfer, gift card or other non-traditional methods.
  • Before giving, check out the charity at www.kscharitycheck.org to assess whether it is registered to solicit in Kansas and to see important aspects of its financial filings, including how much of any money you give will be spent on the charity’s overhead expenses rather than going to support the charitable purpose, such as disaster-relief efforts. However, some charities are exempt by law from registration.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to consumer protection. More information on avoiding charity scams is available on the attorney general’s consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Schmidt said making wise decisions when making charitable contributions or volunteering for disaster organizations can be a worthwhile means of preparedness, making sure help is available when neighbors and communities are in a time of need.

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