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How to avoid fraud, scams when donating to Florence relief

Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-17 23:02:22-04

"Look into who you’re giving your money to and make sure you know where that money is going," said Eduard Bartholme of national consumer advocacy org, Call for Action.

It sounds simple enough, but every hurricane season, data shows some people who open up their hearts to give, end up opening up their wallets a little too wide.

Call for Action says Hurricane Katrina was a benchmark for charity fraud, along with Hurricane Harvey, as scammers reached out via phone calls, phishing emails and fake websites.

The same kind of activity could happen in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Local organizations like the BBB Serving Eastern Michigan are also warning givers to beware.

The BBB says it expects to get complaints as recovery starts to get underway. 

One of the big red flags on their radar? Crowdfunding sites.

FOX 47 News did search under “Hurricane Florence” on GoFundMe and found over 1,400 different relief initiatives.

"You have to think about it this way. Who set this up? I could easily set up an account, and so could you, and that could easily go right to your bank account, " said Amanda Hill, of the BBB.

They’re not necessarily fake, but they are very hard to vet.  The bottom line?

  • Do your research to make sure the charity is legitimate
  • Take a look at the name and logo. It could be impersonating another more established entity
  • Ask questions about how the money gets to the right people
  • Always avoid giving cash or gift cards

If anybody reaches out to you, and you think it might be a scam, the BBB wants you to report it immediately.