Many people have been touched by the photographs and videos showing the plight of the victims of the recent flooding in South Carolina and are responding by making donations to charities helping the flood victims. Unfortunately, such natural disasters also bring out scammers seeking to put the touch on charitably inclined people by setting up phony charities to take advantage of the situation.
Scammers are setting up phony charities or using the names of legitimate charities to steal charitable donations that should be going to help those in need. In addition, there are some “legitimate” charities that spend an inordinate amount of what they collect in donations on their own salaries and administrative costs rather than use the funds to meet the needs of the people the particular charity is supposed to be helping.
Be very wary of telemarketers seeking charitable contributions. Whenever you receive a telephone call that purports to be from a charity, you can never be sure that the caller is legitimate. In addition, even if the caller is a legitimate solicitor on behalf of a charity, they work on commission and some of what you donate will be going to the telemarketer. If a telemarketer arouses your interest in a particular charity, ask the telemarketer to send you written information that you can review before making a contribution directly to the charity that you know will go entirely to the charity.
As for email and text message solicitations from charities, be particularly careful because not only can you not be sure if they are legitimate or not, they may be even worse than that. The email or text message may contain a link or attachment that has malware that can steal the information from your computer or smartphone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
Many phony charities have names that are deceptively similar to those of legitimate charities so it is always a good idea to investigate a particular charity before you make a donation. Charitynavigator.org is a great resource. It is a free website at which you can look up any charity to which you may be considering making a donation. Not only will Charitynavigator.org tell you whether or not the charity is a scam or not, it also will tell you how much of the money given to the charity goes toward its charitable works and how much it pays in salary and administrative costs.