Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Use caution when directing disaster donations

Release Date: Sep 25, 2018

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

Once again, our screens have recently been inundated with pictures of communities devastated by a natural disaster. As the damaging floodwaters of Hurricane Florence have wreaked havoc on North Carolina, the call has gone out around the country for assistance. As always, many Kansans are looking for ways to help – including some who wish to make monetary donations to support the relief efforts. Unfortunately, every time a disaster strikes, scam artists seek to get their hands on some of the money that was intended to help the storm victims.

If you’re planning to make a donation, don’t feel pressured by the urgent plea of a scam artist. It’s important to do your research to be sure the organization you’re supporting is legitimate. While there are many reputable organizations that are putting out urgent requests for help, all legitimate charities will appreciate your donation, whether you make it today or decide to think about it for a few days before donating.

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 victims. 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.
  • Watch out for charities that sound like well-known, legitimate charities. Scam artists often use similar-sounding names to deceive donors.
  • Initiate the donation yourself, rather than responding to online or phone solicitations.
  • Avoid door-to-door solicitors or offers from charities to stop by your home to pick up a check. These too could be fraudulent.
  • Be wary of charities that ask for alternate forms of payment. Legitimate charities will never ask you to wire funds or pay through gift cards.
  • Before giving, check out the charity at 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 hurricane relief efforts. However, some charities are exempt by law from registration.

For more tips on how to stay safe when making charitable contributions, or to report a suspicious charity, visit our consumer protection website at