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Better Business Bureau urges caution when donating to disaster relief efforts

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Posted at 11:24 AM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 15:57:21-04

WEST MICHIGAN — Scammers often take advantage of country-wide calls for help during rescue missions like those in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida.

The Better Business Bureau warned West Michiganders on Monday not to fall for these scams.

“There are many campaigns set up by well-intended individuals who may not be able to deliver on their promises,” said Phil Catlett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Giving to established charities with access and workers in the disaster area is the best way to assure your money is going to help victims directly.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others. The organization offered the following tips:

  • Seek out experienced charities, which will more likely have the capacity and experience in disaster relief activities and already have a presence in the impacted areas.
  • Consider giving money rather than goods, as it is the quickest way to help and gives charities the flexibility to channel resources to impacted areas. Also, find out if a charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. If the money is being passed along to other relief organizations, cut out the middleman and donate directly.
  • Be wary of 100% claims, as the organization is probably still incurring administrative and fundraising expenses, even if it is using other funds to cover these costs.
  • Crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and IndieGoGo can be used to help share the stories of individuals, families and communities in need and to solicit funds from donors.
  • Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or may download harmful malware onto your computer.