ATLANTA — There are needs in multiple states after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Laura and many agencies providing relief to victims in need, but not all of them may be legit.
Governor Brian Kemp and other state officials are warning Georgia residents to be aware of potential scammers looking for donations to victims in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
“Together, we continue to extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of this powerful storm, and we ask Georgians who are able to consider lending a helping hand to those in need. Sadly, the circumstances are ripe for bad actors to attempt to defraud members of the public and rob legitimate charities of desperately needed support. We advise everyone to research entities seeking funds for disaster relief victims to ensure donations are used for the promised charitable purposes,” said Governor Kemp.
“Devastation and loss caused by a natural disaster evokes our sympathies and our desire to help those affected,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Unfortunately, scammers realize this and do not hesitate to take advantage of people’s heightened emotions. They may pose as reputable charities soliciting donations and target consumers through unsolicited emails, legitimate-looking websites, telemarketing calls or by knocking on their doors. We join Governor Kemp in urging Georgians to be aware of these potential signs of fraud,” Carr added.
“I encourage all Georgians to open their hearts and their hands to those affected by Hurricane Laura,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Unfortunately, while families in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi struggle to recover from the devastation of the hurricane, some see it as an opportunity to take advantage. Georgians looking to give should be careful to make sure they are giving to real charities and that their donations are really going to help those in need.”
The state recommends all Georgians looking to donate to utilize all the resources available and research charities looking to help residents in the hurricane stricken areas.
Among the recommended resources; the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Navigator and Charity watch to give updated information on non-profit organizations.
Other tips include:
- Ask how much of your money goes to the case
- Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. Ask if the caller is volunteer or paid fundraiser for the charity.
- Never give credit card, debit card or bank account information to a phone solicitor. Donate directly to charities and don’t pay individuals.
- Make sure the organization has a “tax-deductible” status with the I.R.S. if you want to deduct the donation on your tax return.
- Not all organizations with charitable sounding names are actual charities. Check online to find a list of charities that do hurricane level disaster work.
The Secretary of State’s Charities Division encourages Georgians to contact their staff if they receive suspicious charitable solicitations. To report suspicious activity, call (470) 312-2640. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit a complaint.
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