CHICAGO, IL – November 12, 2013 – Typhoon Haiyan,the typhoon that went through the Philippines and central Vietnam early Monday,has already been ranked as one of Asia’s worst natural disasters in recent decades. As many Americans look for ways to help those affected, they can become overwhelmed with donation appeals. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) alerts consumers to watch out for fraudulent charities trying to scam donations in the aftermath of this devastating storm.
“It’s a sad fact that con artists find opportunity in times of devastation,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Even though the help is desperately needed, those wishing to donate need to take the time required to make sure the organizations they give to are legitimate.”
The BBB offers the following guidelines to help people decide where to direct donations in order to assist typhoon victims and their families:
· Be cautious when giving online. Watch out for spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you are seeking to give to a charitable organization involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity’s website.
· Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs. Watch out for charities that don’t already have staff in the affected areas as they may not be able to provide assistance quickly.
· Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and give directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or at least check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to actually provide aid.
· Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be careful when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other websites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations and check if they meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
· Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. They may use some of their other funds to pay this,but the expenses will still be incurred.
· Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing—while well intentioned— may notnecessarily be the quickest way to help those in need, unless the organizationhas the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid.Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary ofthose who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.
For more consumer tips and charities you can trust, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, thepurpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace.BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediationand arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practicesand charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businessesand nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company orcharity before making a purchase or donation.