Watch out for fake charities in the wake of natural disasters

Published 10:00 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

From flooding in Houston to earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan, recent natural disasters have people wondering what they can do to help, but Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall cautions North Carolinians to be sure they’re giving wisely.


“Our state’s giving public is incredibly generous, but please make sure your dollars are doing the most good possible on the ground in these hard-hit areas,” Secretary Marshall cautioned on Wednesday. “It’s a sad fact that natural disasters do bring out scam charities that will seek to take advantage of the public’s goodwill. That not only steals from the people making contributions, it robs disaster victims of vital resources.”

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Secretary Marshall also advises people to be wary of high pressure solicitations through social media, texts or email. Also look out for groups using names that resemble those of established, respected charities.


A good practice is to give to a local group in North Carolina that is raising funds for distant disasters. If you give online, search for an established charity with regional offices nearby and contact that office to verify the website you are viewing is really theirs.


The Secretary of State’s Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division encourages everyone to visit the charities section of to check out groups soliciting you for donations online or by phone and make sure they are legitimate charities.


Charity Navigator also has a list of charities assisting relief efforts in Ecuador. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Houston is a good resource to check out charitable organizations assisting relief efforts for flood victims. Guidestar can also provide information on charities working in the affected regions.


– Submitted by Liz Proctor