California continues to be plagued by wildfires — including the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles and the Camp Fire in Northern California, now one of the deadliest in the state’s history.
Dozens of people have lost their lives, thousands of homes and business have been destroyed, and more than 250,000 Californians have been forced to leave their homes.
If you’re looking for a way to help those in need, do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.
Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren’t entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.
Consider these tips:
- Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record of dealing with disasters. And, as always, research a charity before you give.
- Designate the disaster to make sure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
- Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself. Search its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”
- When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate.
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If the charity should be registered, but they’re not, consider donating through another charity.
To learn more, go to ftc.gov/charity.
If you, or someone you know has been affected by the wildfires, please see and share, Picking up the pieces after a wildfire.