To head off charity scams in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, AARP joined the NC Attorney General, United Way of North Carolina and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina to warn residents that scammers are capitalizing on people's willingness to donate to hurricane recovery and clean up efforts.
If you want to ensure that your donation will count and be used for what it was intended for, watchdogs are providing some warnings and tips. Attorney General Josh Stein noted that the NC Department of Justice is already receiving multiple complaints of fraud and suspicious activity. Stein urges people to call the AG's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1- 877-5-NO-SCAM to report suspicious activity. He also warned against responding to unsolicited e-mail for donations.
"Another thing to consider is be careful how you pay," AARP North Carolina Director Doug Dickerson explains. "If someone wants cash donations, gift cards, or asks you to wire money, don’t do it. Those are sure signs of a scam."
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall urges people to check the state's Smart Donors Checklist before you write one. Secretary Marshall said, "While there are many deserving organizations that need our support to continue their good works, we all want to ensure that our hard-earned money is going to be spent wisely when we donate to our favorite causes. A visit to the website or a quick call to our Charitable Solicitation Licensing Section can help you educate yourself about an organization's background before you make a donation."
Deputy Secretary of State Haley Hanes also talked to thousands of AARP members via a tele-town hall to provide fraud prevention tips. You can listen to the program here to learn more about keeping you and your savings safe.
Other ways to help you research charities
These organizations offer reports and ratings about how charitable organizations spend donations and how they conduct business:
Is my donation tax deductible?
The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.