Hurricane Charity Scams

The 2018 hurricane season is upon us. If you haven’t made storm preparations, now is the time. Many people wish to help those that are effected by these storms. You should know about how to avoid hurricane relief charity fraud before you make a donation.

Here’s the rundown. After a hurricane hits, people rush to help those in need. If you are making a donation for hurricane relief, remember to give enough thought to where exactly you are sending your money. Because scammers are hoping that generous people like you, in your eagerness to help, won’t do your homework so they can steal that money. The best way to avoid this and other kinds of charity fraud is to go online and do your research to make sure your money goes to a reputable organization.

  • Never provide personal information including social security number, date of birth, credit card number or address.
  • Be suspicious of any stranger calling asking for money, regardless of the situation.
  • Government agencies will never call to ask for verification of personal information, or to request payment.
  • Verify the legitimacy of any email or telephone solicitation by researching the organization or calling the company back.
  • Do not assume that charities posted on social media or on the internet are legitimate.
  • Before giving to a specific charity, search its name along with terms such as complaint, review, rating or scam.
  • Be aware of copycat names and names similar to those of legitimate charities.
  • Make sure websites are correct and not copycats. Watch for misspellings or improper English.
  • Most legitimate charity websites end in .org instead of .com.
  • Never click on attachments and links in unsolicited emails.
  • Designate the disaster to ensure funds to toward disaster relief.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally ask for donations in cash, gift cards or by money transfers.
  • To be safer, pay by credit card or check. Never write a check payable to individuals.
  • Give to charities that are known and trusted.

Organizations that can help you research charities

These organizations offer reports and ratings about how charitable organizations spend donations and how they conduct business:

The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.

You can find your state charity regulator at Most states require the charity or its fundraiser to register to ask for donations.