Beware of fraudulent disaster charities for Oklahoma victims

Beware of fraudulent disaster charities for Oklahoma victims

Beware of fraudulent disaster charities for Oklahoma victims

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by BILL MCGINTY / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 21 at 1:27 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Watch out for scams from people trying to make money on the tornado outbreak in Oklahoma.  

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday his heart goes out to the victims in Oklahoma, but warned of heartless scammers who will try to profit off this disaster.

"Don’t let phony charities divert your money from where you intend it to go. Do your homework before you give to make sure your donation does the most good possible,” Cooper said.

Cooper encouraged North Carolinians to give generously but to watch for charity scams.

Consumers can report potential scams to the Attorney General’s office by calling 1-877- 5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.

To avoid scams and make sure your donations go to legitimate charities: Watch out for pushy telemarketers.

Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you are usually up to no good.

Also, some telemarketers keep up to 90 percent of the money they collect for charities.

Your money will go further if you give directly to the real charity, not to hired fundraisers. Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give.

Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be an example of phishing. The messages may include links to copycat web sites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors.

Be careful of social networking posts asking you to donate. The cause may sound worthy, but you have no way of verifying how your money would really be used.

Some scammers use names that are very close to the names of real charities, non-profits or even law enforcement agencies.

If you want to donate, contact the real charity or organization at a website or phone number you know to be valid.

Cash gifts can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card. If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser. Protect your personal information.

Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who contacts you, for any reason. Say no to high-pressure appeals.

Legitimate fundraisers won’t push you to give on the spot. If you want to give to charity, do your homework first.

Visit www.give.org to see if national charities meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and www.charitywatch.org for ratings of charities by the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Other good sources of information are www.guidestar.org and www.charitynavigator.org.

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