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Better Business Bureau warns of donation scams during disasters

The number one mistake is not doing your research

The number one mistake is not doing your research

From helping victims of the earthquake in Haiti to giving to those in need in Afghanistan, and now supporting the people being impacted by Hurricane Ida, donating to a charity is on the front of a lot of people’s minds. But before you do, you want to make sure you are choosing the right one.

The Better Business Bureau of Western Virginia wants to warn people to not let their emotions cloud their common sense. A lot of scams are known to exploit disasters to make emotional pleas to donors.

Something to remember is instead of making impulse decisions based on emotion, do some research first to verify the charity you have chosen operates ethically. You want to make sure the organization that you are giving to has resources on the ground and that they have a presence in that location. This way they can help and use the funds correctly.

“You want to choose an organization that is able to tell you what type of programs they are doing for these folks. What are they doing to help them and are they able to help them? Versus all these people are in desperate shape. ‘They need, they need, they need’, but it is all very high on emotion and very short on what they are actually able to do,” said Julie Wheeler with the Better Business Bureau of Western Virginia.

Wheeler also recommends avoiding on-the-spot donations to unfamiliar organizations. This can be a charity that you don’t recognize, asking you to give a gift right away. The Better Business Bureau has a charity evaluator on their website that provides research on more than 11,000 charities. This is a tool anyone can use to feel more comfortable when donating and be reassured that their gift is being used in the right way.

The BBB of Western Virginia says the most common mistake people make when donating to a charity is not doing their homework. They just click on the link that pops up on their social media or in an email.

If you end up spotting a scam you should report it to a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

About the Author:

Brittany Wier joined the 10 News team as the morning reporter in August 2021.