BBB Warns of Tornado Charity Scams

Secretary of State Kim Wyman also recommends exercising caution when donating funds.

“Our hearts go out to the families, friends and neighbors of those who died or were injured in the tornado in Oklahoma,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “I’m sure that a number of Washingtonians will be stepping forward to contribute to the relief effort and to help the victims of this tragedy. 

“As the Attorney General and I continue to underscore, it is important that donors use their heads, as well as their hearts, in responding. Sadly, there will always be rip-off artists looking to line their pockets, so we urge donors to use caution in making decisions about where to contribute their hard-earned money.”

BBB, the AG and SOS advise consumers to be mindful of certain red flags before making donations. 

  1. Be suspicious of solicitors requesting immediate donations. Don’t rush decisions and consider contributing at give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
  2. Make sure that charities are qualified to provide the type of disaster relief that is necessary.
  3. Avoid cash donations. Write a check directly to the charity, not the fundraiser.
  4. Never give out credit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Be wary of “new” charities with unverifiable background information.
  6. Watch out for solicitations from fake “victim” or memorial social media accounts.
  7. Don’t be fooled by a name. Be watchful of charities that use sympathetic sounding names or names similar to well-known legitimate charities.

The Better Business Bureau, the Washington Attorney General and Secretary of State advise consumers to contact potential charities directly. For more information on finding charities, visit BBB’s charity review or the SOS charity lookup. Consumers can also visit the SOS web site for tips on giving wisely.

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Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington: BBB’s mission is to advance marketplace trust. BBB is a neutral not-for-profit organization that helps consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. For more information on ethical business standards, BBB Accreditation, BBB Business Reviews, Charity Reviews, complaints, events and anti-fraud tips, contact BBB or visit bbb.org.