CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As more and more Ukrainian refugees try to get away from the violence, many across the United States look to help those people out.
But how do you do so without getting scammed?
“We always say that scammers work in seasons," said Katie Galan, regional director of the Better Business Bureau. "So, they will take advantage of whatever is going on at that moment.”
If you are looking to donate, Galan said, first and foremost, do your research on charities. She said many scams will come from crowdfunding sites. So, only donate to charities with disaster relief experience. But most reputable charities won’t be crowdfunding.
“Kind of the best way to go is to pick up the phone, call that organization, Google them," she said. "You don’t want to call any number that’s on that crowdsource website. You really want to go and find that number independently. So, go to Google, look it up there.”
So, what are some red flags to stay away from?
Any charity that said 100 percent of proceeds go to a cause.
“You know that sounds great, of course, but the reason that, that throws a red flag for us is because an actual reputable charitable organization is going to have some sort of overhead cost or some sort of administrative cost,” Galan said.
Another red flag, if you were thinking about donating material goods like food, clothing or toiletries, Galan said you have to think about logistics.
"This is a war-torn country, this is a war zone," she said. "So, it’s not likely that they have any sort of mail service going on or any sort of reliable mail service. Also, does that organization, do they have feet on the ground, boots on the ground in Ukraine now?”
How do you know if a charity is legitimate? The Better Business Bureau recommends using Give.org.
“Find organizations there that already (have) experience with disaster relief because there are many charities who do a lot of great things, but not a lot of charities that have experience with disaster relief.”
Galan said she has not seen scams like these in our area yet, but said it’s bound to happen.
Other ways to check for the legitimacy of charity organizations are using the IRS website, which all non-profits should have registered with. Or you can use guidestar.org, a site that searches for reputable charities and you can use filters.