(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller cautions Iowans to be alert for relief scams tied to the deadly earthquake in Nepal.
“Iowans who want to help people hit by the terrible earthquake should know that there may be scammers who try to take advantage of their generosity,” Miller said. “It’s important to donate to a reputable charity so your donations will really help those in need.”
Miller noted that sound-alike charities often emerge following large-scale disasters, and people should be particularly wary of unsolicited calls, emails or text messages. “If you receive an unsolicited request for a donation—even if it sounds and appears legitimate, hold off and contact the charity through an established website or phone number to make the donation. That will help ensure that your donation is going where you intend it to go.”
Tips for Wise Giving
- Donate to familiar charities. These should be known and established disaster relief organizations like the American Red Cross at www.RedCross.org or the United Nations Children's Fund at www.unicef.org, or faith-based organizations that you are familiar with. Make sure the name is not a sound-alike organization.
- Do not respond to unsolicited calls or e-mails. If you receive an unsolicited e-mail, simply delete it. Don’t click on links, open attachments or pop-up ads, because they could expose you to phishing scams or computer viruses. It’s best to seek an organization through an Internet search engine, as opposed to clicking on a link that you received.
- Do your homework by checking on the charity. Check with organizations like www.CharityNavigator.org, www.GuideStar.org, or www.BBB.org to learn more about the organization seeking donations.
- If you donate through a website, make sure that the transaction is secure. When you are entering credit card information online, confirm that the web address prefix is “https://” in (the “s” means it is secure).
- They want it right now? The answer is no! If a solicitor pressures you for an immediate donation, it may be a scam. Take the time to check on a charity. You can search the Internet or request written information from the charity. A legitimate charity will respond to your request. Ask how much of your donation actually helps others, and how much goes to administrative costs.
- Donate by credit card on a secure website or by check. This will help you keep records for security and tax purposes.
- Food, clothing and relief supplies are often more difficult and costly to distribute. Spending extra resources on delivering these donations could actually hinder relief efforts.
For more information or to report a suspected scam, contact the Consumer Protection Division, 1305 E. Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926, or 888-777-4590 (toll free). Website: www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov.