State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is urging residents to beware of scams designed to take advantage of their potential generosity toward victims of Hurricane Matthew.
The state’s top law enforcement officer is encouraging caution in philanthropy, asking people to give to well-established charities, to vet potential recipients and to avoid sending cash, among other precautions before donating to the cause.
“During the past few days, New Yorkers have seen images of people leaving their homes and belongings behind as they wade through floodwaters left in Matthew’s path,” Schneiderman said in a news release. “This office encourages such generosity, and will work with New Yorkers to ensure that their donations are protected. People who plan to contribute to charities that provide disaster relief should be sure to review these tips to protect themselves and ensure help goes where it is intended.”
Schneiderman offered the following tips for givers:
- Donate to organizations you are familiar with, or have experience assisting in disaster relief and get information about charities with unfamiliar names or that pop up solely in response to the hurricane.
- Review information about the charity. Organizations that are soliciting in New York must be registered with the Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau and may be reviewed at www.charitiesnys.com.
- Other reputable websites with information on charities are the American Institute of Philanthropy at charitywatch.org, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance at bbb.org, Charity Navigator at charitynavigator.org and GuideStar at guidestar.org.
- Ask telephone solicitors whether they are part of “a paid fundraiser.” If the answer is yes, ask if they are registered in New York and if they aren’t, Schneiderman advises, do not contribute.
- Before texting a donation, check the charity’s website or call to confirm it has authorized contributions to be made via text message.
- Ask how the charity plans to use your donation and beware of unsolicited emails soliciting donations.
- Avoid giving credit card or personal information over the phone or by text message and report suspicious organizations to the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-416-8401.