Donating to experienced disaster relief platforms

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In light of the tornadoes that affected residents in Evangeline Parish, many of us feel called to give.

But how do you know your money is going to the right place?

Little do so many of us know, scammers are out there trying to take advantage of donations.

That’s why experts are encouraging consumers to support experienced disaster relief platforms.

”With all the recent damage with the weather that we’ve had, scammers are opportunists, and they’re going to use those events and use the heartstrings that they pull on for our Acadiana area wanting to donate to each other and help out as an opportunity for them to set up a scam and steal your money,” said Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana.

Facebook pages and crowdfunding sites, such as GoFundMe, spring up in the wake of natural disasters.

But, the Better Business Bureau says, if the fundraiser isn’t associated with an experienced charity, reconsider donating.

Babin added, “The biggest sites or venues taking advantage of these donations is crowdfunding sites similar to GoFundMe. There’s not a lot done in the vetting process when somebody sets up one of those, so they can easily set it up and say that it’s benefiting a certain thing, and in reality, there’s no restrictions, and there’s no authority over where those funds actually go once they’re donated.”

Experts say some fundraising efforts may intend to do good with the donations, but they lack the infrastructure of an established charity.

”People are posting personal photos. It’s not very hard for a scammer to come across something that can make them seem as though they are legitimate. That they’re an actual victim themselves, or that they’re setting up something to help out the victims when in reality, they’re just making away with your money,” said Babin.

The Better Business Bureau said some fundraising pages may just be designed for ” click bait” to gain a large number of followers that can later be sold to a new page owner.

Here are some tips to look out for when it comes to donating to the right fundraising efforts:

  • Verify the trustworthiness of soliciting relief organizations.
  • See if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has skilled operations in the affected areas, it may be difficult to provide assistance quickly and effectively.
  • Be cautious about gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations and where those go.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.

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