COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Within three days’ time, two major disasters occurred on opposite sides of the world.
People in East Palestine, Ohio were impacted by a train derailment and release of toxic chemicals, left unsure of what’s to come. And in Turkey and Syria, death and destruction mounts in the wake of massive earthquakes. Efforts to recover and rebuild are not yet underway.
Many people feel called to action in one of the only ways they know how: By donating. But people’s outpouring of generosity in the aftermath of disasters tends to attract scammers with fake websites and fundraisers, hoping to exploit.
To ward off scammers, the Better Business Bureau recommends you consider some things before pulling out your checkbook:
- Does the charity have direct access to the impacted area? Not all relief organizations are positioned to provide relief quickly.
- Money is typically preferred over goods, as it’s quick and gives organizations flexibility. The BBB recommends using a credit card instead of a check — it gives you more protections if something goes wrong.
- Use caution online. Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites. They may take you to a lookalike, imposter website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information.
If you’re still looking for the right charity, Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau have lists of vetted and verified organizations.
If you make a donation and find out after the fact that it is fraudulent, report it to local law enforcement, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission.