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BBB warns to do your research before donating to a relief organization to avoid scammers

 Screenshot of the donation page on the American Red Cross website, an organization accredited by the BBB.
American Red Cross
Screenshot of the donation page on the American Red Cross website, an organization accredited by the BBB.

The warning comes as people are donating toward relief efforts amid the Israel-Hamas war and the Afghanistan earthquakes.

As the Israel-Hamas war continues – and as Afghanistan deals with the aftermath of four 6.3 magnitude earthquakes in the same region just days apart -- you might be wondering how you can help. One way, of course, is to donate money to relief organizations.

But the Better Business Bureau urges that you do your homework before you give.

Pamela Hernandez with the BBB Springfield office, said when there’s a crisis or major charitable movement, scammers look to take advantage of people’s generosity.

She said it’s OK to be skeptical. Take your time and do research before you make a donation — "not feeling that you have to succumb to a high pressure appeal. Often, that's a tactic of scammers," she said. "Even when it's time sensitive, there's always time to take a few minutes to research an organization before donating."

Something to consider, she said, is if a relief organization has a presence in the impacted region and can get aid to people quickly.

Red flags to look for are those high pressure appeals and claims that 100 percent of donations will go to the relief efforts.

And, she said, if you get an appeal from what appears to be a trusted nonprofit, double check the name.

"Unfortunately scammers will try to take advantage of consumers by using similar names to impersonate trusted organizations," said Hernandez.

Look carefully at the web address, email and phone number to be sure a link is legitimate before you donate – or better yet – go directly to a charity’s website. Call and ask to talk to a representative if you’re unsure about where your money will go.

If you give on a crowdfunding site, be sure you know the person who is raising the money.

Also, be alert to social media scams.

You can find a list of BBB accredited organizations at give.org.

Copyright 2023 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

Michele Skalicky