Do you want to donate to a Philippines Typhoon relief aid charity? If news of the destruction rendered by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has moved you to help, you’re not alone. Money is certainly desperately needed to support rescue and rebuilding efforts. Every little bit helps and many Americans are stepping up to donate.
Unfortunately, scammers exploit major disasters and tragedies like this one to trick consumers with fake charity scams. If you’re not careful, the money you send to help victims in the Philippines may end up in the pockets of a scammer instead. Here are 3 Scambook Tips to make sure your money actually goes to help where you want it to:
Tip #1. Donate to a Reputable Relief Aid Charity
If you do nothing else, do a background check on the charity before you send a donation.
Aside from well-known organizations like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, there are a number of smaller charities that are well-equipped to help.
But before you click “Donate” through a link your brother-in-law’s co-worker posted on Facebook, keep in mind a warning from the FTC:
Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren’t entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.
Before you give, check out the charity’s track record on GuideStar, Charity Watch, or Charity Navigator. A bad or non-existent rating on any of these charity watchdog sites is a bad sign. Alternately, charity review sites will also tell you how much of your dollar goes to the cause versus the charity’s CEO salaries.
Tip #2. How You Donate Matters, Too
Even when giving money to a good cause, you can be open yourself to being defrauded or having your identity stolen. Making sure you’re giving to a reputable charity is the first step, but how you give is equally important.
Avoid giving donations in cash, as there’s no way you can track your money to make sure it goes where you want it to. And you won’t have a paper trail for your taxes.
Also avoid red flags, like sweepstakes or giveaways, says the FTC:
If an organization offers the promise of a guaranteed win of a sweepstakes, it’s very possible you could be dealing with a scam. Donating to a charitable cause is never a prerequisite to winning a sweepstakes prize.
Never give your credit card, bank account number, or other personal financial information to a charity you haven’t researched thoroughly first. Identity theft helps no one but the thieves!
Tip #3. Ask Questions That Are Important To You
If someone’s asking you for money, you can ask questions right back.
Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser and what portion of your donation will go to pay them. If you get an answer you don’t like, or no answer at all, move on.
Also ask where your money is going. If you want to make sure your money is going to supply aid in the Eastern Philippines, rather than to purchase office supplies for the charity’s headquarters, pick a charity that will let you designate a disaster to help.
Don’t Be Afraid to be Generous
But don’t let this article scare you away from giving! There are plenty of reputable charities doing good work and helping the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the Internet has made it easier than ever to find them (even though the Internet has also made it easier than ever for scammers to find you).
If you have a charity that’s particularly close to your heart, share it in the comments below. If you’ve had a bad experience with a charity, report it here.