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Avoid charity scams following damage from March storms

Posted at 2:28 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 18:19:37-04

INDIANAPOLIS— The devastating images out of Delaware and Randolph county will prompt many people to donate money to storm victims.

But the Better Business Bureau recommends doing your due diligence before you open your wallet.

Many scammers will use the natural disaster as an opportunity to take your money.

Be careful of anyone going door to door or soliciting donations on social media, including online fundraisers like GoFundMe.

Consider it a red flag if the charity is vague about what they will do with the money or if they pressure you to donate immediately.

“A credible organization seeking donations is not going to want it right in the moment,” said Jennifer Adamany with the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana. “They will understand if you need to research. So pressure to give right away might be an indication you want to pause."

Adamany said charity scams are difficult to track.
“It’s harder to identify because unlike when you’re giving money to a business and you’re receiving a product or a service in return, you’re not going to get that when it comes to the charity,” said Adamany. “So that’s why it’s really important to do your due diligence and that they’re actually going to do good with it.”

If you want to help storm victims, you can donate to the Community Foundation of Randolph County.

WRTV Investigates checked their tax forms, and found they are a legitimate nonprofit (501c3) organization.

Better Business Bureau Tips To Avoid Charity Scam

  • Watch out for charity name confusion. Be alert to questionable groups seeking to confuse donors with names that sound similar to charities you know.
  • Resist pressure to give on the spot. Don’t give in to excessive pressure on the phone to make an immediate donation.
  • Find out more about the charity. The charity’s website provides access to information on its programs, board roster and finances. Groups may also be verified through government registration. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with the with the attorney general’s office or secretary of state’s office. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Watch out for vague program descriptions. Be alert for overly emotional charitable appeals that say little about what the charity intends to do to address the problems identified.
  • Check for BBB charity accreditation. Visit charity reports on to verify if the organization meets the 20 BBB Standard for Charity Accountability (i.e., a BBB Accredited Charity.) There is no charge to charities for accreditation.