Scammers taking charity meant for Harvey victims
Tri-Cities, WASH - Our nation's fourth largest city has an huge humanitarian crisis to sort out. Social media makes it seem closer than ever and crooks are capitalizing on that, asking for donations and ripping people off. Kirstin Davis of the Better Business Bureau said this might lead you to make a rash decision based on emotion,
"We always want to be out in front of reminding people to not just take that first opportunity to give, to instead take a step back and research."
She said the crowdfunding websites that ask for money, and telephone calls which try to guilt you into donating are probably not legitimate.
She said its important to understand how crowdfunding works, to make sure the charity has an on-the-ground presence (not just online) and to also be wary of any organization that asks for gift cards or says you need to wire money; it's hard to verify where those funds go.
"[The Red Cross is] very equipped to handle situations like this when its really chaotic and of a massive scale, they're a great organization," said Davis. Local Red Cross director Peggy Hogarth agrees. She said they've already sent 15 people south from our region, but that's only possible when people volunteer their time to get trained before disasters strike,
"We do intake and training and of course they can work here locally to help their own community. Then when these disasters happen people can choose to go help people all across the country."
Hogarth said if you want to help Harvey victims now, her agency doesn't need clothes but they do need blood,
"The need for blood is critical ...it's going to increase. When any increase happens all across the country we want to make sure we're ready to provide that support."
Davis said agencies like the Red Cross are valuable because people know who they are but other scams manage to fly under the radar,
"For every one scam that goes reported we have about 40 that go unreported so its really important to share that information so that we can try to put a stop to that behavior."
- Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman's office sent out a warning about potential scams this morning; they also posted a list of charities they say are safe.
- To donate to the American Red Cross, visit here. You can also text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10.
- To find an American Red Cross sponsored blood drive within the next week, visit here.
- To report a scam to the Better Business Bureau, visit here.