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Gephardt: BBB Warns Against Hurricane Laura Donation Scams

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As Texans and Louisianans try to recover from Hurricane Laura, the Better Business Bureau has put out a warning about people raising money, claiming that the funds are going towards helping victims.

Anytime there is a major catastrophe, kind-hearted folks want to help. Sometimes, the best way to do that is by opening your wallet. Crooks know that, too.

Just because people SAY the money is going to charity doesn’t mean it really is, said Timothy Johnston with the Better Business Bureau.

During a natural disaster — Hurricane Laura or the wildfires that we see in California — [scammers] are paying attention,” he said. “They’ll set up sites to gather your information, send you links that hopefully will divert your funds that you’d like to give to a worthwhile charity, to a scammer.” 

That’s why the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and the Better Business Bureau are encouraging donors to support only experienced disaster relief organizations. 

“We encourage people to give, but to give wisely,” Johnston said. “If you get a recommendation from somebody on social media or text message comes up to, you know, ‘Give Now,’ do your research.” 

One place to research is at a website set up by the BBB:

Their advice is to support “experienced organizations that stand ready to provide quick and effective assistance, and be cautious of organizations that form overnight in the wake of a disaster,” Johnston said. 

Also, for those who want to support an individual through crowdfunding, the BBB recommends doing so only if you actually know and trust that person. 

Here in the state of Utah, anybody who is raising money must be legally registered with the state.

That makes it so that people can see on the internet that you are a registered charity, said division director Daniel OBannon. I know where to find them. I know how to learn more about them. 

The divisions website allows consumers to check if a charity is registered, as well as how much money raised actually makes it to those in need.

We want to make sure they go into the pockets of the charities that are getting the money to the right place, not into the pockets of scammers, OBannon said. The reality is, when you get online, you cant always tell right away, is this legitimate. Scammers know how to make things look really good, too.

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