Kansas Attorney General offers tips on Hurricane Harvey charity scams

Messages about ways to help victims of Hurricane Harvey are all over Twitter and Facebook, and plenty of heartbreaking stories will soon join these fundraising pages on GoFundMe.

Disaster planning. Although it may seem obvious, no one wants to experience a repeat performance of a disaster. "We can help set up trips down here for groups of kids that would like to come help in the weeks and months after the storm passes". "Even if you want to give right now, there's also the opportunity to give later on down the road".

Donate to reputable disaster relief agencies. If you decide to contribute via crowdfunding, it is probably best to give to people who you personally know that have posted requests for assistance.

If you're looking for a way to give, be cautious of charity scams. According to Forbes, after Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross asked the FBI to investigate at least 15 fake websites looking for donations. That is why the best approach is to go to the charity's website directly.

Scammers often send phishing emails to get your credit card information or other compromising information, so unless you've previously donated to a specific charity before and they have your contact information, donate directly to a charity's website.

McGovern has seen it before: people with good intentions end up donating to a phony charity, and their money is essentially stolen. Charities that do not have staff in affected areas may have difficulty bringing in aid workers. Check out a group's website to find out where they're located. Call the organization and ask if they are soliciting donations.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that over $20 million was lost to charity scammers after Hurricane Katrina, and this disaster has the potential to cause just as much harm.

Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. This includes your Social Security number, credit card, and bank account numbers.

In addition, donate to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's Harvey Recovery Fund, which will focus on the medium and long-term needs of the region and fill critical gaps.

Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations.

Look into gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.

  • Joanne Flowers