Beware fake charities, crowdfunding campaigns, especially in times of disaster

Giving to charity is a great way to help others, but there’s growing concern about fake charities, especially after events like the Orlando shooting and massive flooding in Louisiana.

In times of need, humanity is often at its best with people giving both financially and physically.

But it can also rear its ugly head.

“Unfortunately many people fall into that trap and what happens is they wind up being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous person or a charity that has a sullied reputation and isn’t really doing what they say they’re going to be doing with the money that they are raising,” said Greg Dunn, Hawaii Better Business Bureau CEO.

The recent Louisiana flooding is a prime example of how scammers are using the tragedy to their advantage. At one point, there were more than a thousand individual online campaigns trying to raise money through the GoFundMe website.

Dunn says some of those proved to be fake.

“One of the things with those sites is that it doesn’t take very much for an individual to set up a site at GoFundMe. You could do it, I could do it, my nephew can do it,” Dunn said.

So how do you sort through and choose which charity or cause to give to?

“The first thing you want to make sure is that the charity has a background in the affected area. You want to make sure that you look at their website, look at the various charity review websites, make sure that they can deliver on their promise that they’re making as you’re giving the money,” Dunn said.

The Hawaii Better Business Bureau says you also want to be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with current events.

And find out if the charity is registered to solicit donations. The BBB says in Hawaii charities must be registered with the state. You can check their website if you’re unsure.

When it comes to donating through social media, the BBB says do your research before you click send.

If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or send an email to actionline@khon2.com.

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