In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, millions of Americans are offering thoughts, prayers, and support to the victims and their families. Sadly, a national tragedy doesn’t stop scammers. The harsh reality is that fake charity scams and fraudulent relief funds often appear in the aftermath of tragic events.
Right now, there’s still a lot of misinformation circulating around Monday’s terrorist attack in Boston, emotions are running high, and many may feel a sense of urgency to help. Scammers exploit these factors. They can impersonate victims on social media or even create websites for fake charities. Your donations end up in the pockets of a scammer instead of someone who truly needs it.
If you’d like to help Boston, please make sure your money goes to legitimate charities and relief funds. Here’s a list of trustworthy organizations where you can send aid, as well as 5 tips to avoid a charity scam.
How to Help Boston: Where You Should Send Aid
1. The One Fund Boston
The One Fund Boston is a relief effort started by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino.
Donations are accepted via PayPal on www.onefundboston.org or donors can send a check to: One Fund Boston, Inc., 800 Boylston Street #990009, Boston, MA 02199.
2. The Red Cross
The Red Cross is also offering aid in the aftermath of the bombing. You can help by making a donation through their website, but the Red Cross also offers a non-monetary option for providing aid. Donate blood by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting redcrossblood.org.
3. Massachusetts General Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital is accepting donations to cover emergency medical supplies and trauma care. Give online at give.massgeneral.org, call 617-726-2200 to contribute by phone, or send a check to: MGH Developmental Office, 165 Cambridge Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.
4. Boston Children’s Hospital
Donate to the Children’s Hospital’s Marathon Program or their Emergency and Trauma fund. Click here for an online donation form.
5 Tips to Avoid a Fake Charity Scam and Bogus Victims
If you’re interesting in donating to a different organization than the ones listed above, just make sure it’s a legitimate charity or relief fund. Here are some tips to help you avoid a scam.
1. Research the organization online.
Contact the State Attorney General or the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) to find out if the organization is officially registered. We also recommend the watchdog sites guidestar.org and charitynavigator.org.
2. Don’t trust viral stories from supposed victims.
In the wake of a national tragedy, dozens of heart-breaking stories circulate through social media and email. Many of these stories turn out to be false but harmless, while others include a PayPal link for accepting donations. Don’t give money to someone who claims to be a victim unless you know them personally or have another way to verify their story.
3. Don’t give in to pressure to donate.
Even in times of immediate need, a legitimate charity will never pressure you to donate. If an individual soliciting donations is rude, threatening, or refuses to answer questions, it’s unlikely that they’re representing a real charity. Call the organization they claim to represent and report the incident.
4. Stop and remember past donations.
Charity scammers often try to build trust with their victims by calling and thanking them for past donations. If you’re contacted out of the blue and thanked for your generosity, pause and think about your history with this supposed charity. A legitimate charity representative will be able to provide the date of your donations or other verifying information. If the caller can’t do this, it’s a red flag.
5. Watch out for unsolicited text messages.
Be very cautious if you receive a text message asking for donations. Although many legitimate charities can receive donations via text message, it’s highly improbable that they will send out unsolicited text messages for help. Trust your gut instinct and don’t respond to suspicious text messages. Remember, you can always find other ways to donate.
Give Support Even If You Can’t Donate
Even if you can’t afford to donate, you can still help the people of Boston by expressing your support. Call your loved ones in Massachusetts, send a Tweet, leave a Facebook comment or attend a community vigil or religious service in your area.
We also invite you to share your thoughts and prayers here on Scambook. Leave a comment on our blog or join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Our hearts go out to the victims of Monday’s bombing.