Hopefully this information is not arriving too late. It is a warning to avoid charity scams in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that destroyed many parts of Texas.

  1. DO NOT give your credit card number to anyone that calls you on behalf of a charity.
  2. DO NOT donate to any charity that calls you on the telephone. Do not mail checks, do not send gift cards, do not send money orders.
  3. Beware of names that sound good, like Churches for Harvey Disaster. These are often scammers taking advantage of you.
  4. If you give to the Red Cross, mark your donation to be specific to Hurricane Harvey. The Red Cross has been widely criticized for how it handled donations for Superstorm Sandy in 2013. It had not spent more than a third of the money it raised seven months after Superstorm Sandy.
  5. For the relief effort after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 one half billion dollars was raised by the Red Cross and they say they provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the only six permanent homes have been built five years later. The Red Cross has not been transparent in how it spends its disaster relief money, and much of it goes to overhead and not to the victims.
  6. Over 20 years ago I wrote about the problem of charities that have sound alike names and are total scams. Examples are:
    • American Institute for Cancer Research (sounds like the American Cancer Society)
    • United Children’s Fund
    • A Child’s Wish (sounds like the Make A Wish Foundation)
    • Center for Advanced Heart Research.
  7. You can confirm the integrity and efficiency of charities you might consider by going to www.CharityNavigator.org

Do not let scammers pull on your heart strings and donate to those who line their pockets with money that needs to go to those who are truly desperate.

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day holiday.