Charity Fraud: Scammers Take Advantage During Vulnerable Times

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on May 5, 2016

Blog_WildFireFort McMurray donations may be going to the wrong people

By now, much of the world has heard the stories, and seen the pictures of the shear devastation of the wild fires in Northern Alberta.

In the history of the Province of Alberta, this is the biggest evacuation effort ever seen. And in some areas, 90% of structures have burned to the ground.

It’s times like this when Canadians band together to help out our fellow citizens. It’s also a time when those from other parts of the world find it in their hearts to donate what they can in the effort to help these suddenly-homeless people.

But be aware. In amongst these legitimate charities doing all they can to raise money to help those in need, are fraudsters and scammers looking to make a few extra bucks at the expense of the victims.

The Better Business Bureau is warning people to make sure they’re donating to reputable organizations.

In this day of social media, there is a flood of people opening doors and wallets to help those in need.

But there’s also people who take advantage of these types of situations and use these opportunities to scam good people.

Here’s a few tips from the Better Business Bureau:

Be cautious when donating online
Be cautious of unsolicited emails, text messages, and social media posts. If you want to give to a charity, go directly to that charity’s website.

Rely on expert opinion when giving to a charity
Check out local BBBs or other such organizations to research charities and relief organizations to make sure they are legitimate and meet industry regulations.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims
It’s impossible for charities to work for free. They always have fundraising and administrative costs. Even credit card donations involve processing fees.

Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas
Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers 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. There are some situations, like the one in Alberta, where as much of the donations as possible are need.

Gifts of clothing, food or other supplies
Drives for food and clothing, while well intentioned, may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need – unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. In the case of those affected in Alberta, distribution is available and these items are needed as most have lost absolutely everything.

Be careful who you donate to and avoid charity fraud!

~WhistleBlower Security Inc.