March 11, 2011

From the Indiana Attorney General's Office

CONSUMER ALERT: Avoid charity scams - send relief donations to reputable organizations
The shocking images of today’s massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan may prompt generous Hoosiers to donate to disaster relief efforts to help the victims. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller urges the public to verify before donating that relief organizations are reputable, so that they aren’t scammed. He suggests researching the website www.CharityNavigator.org to check whether a charity uses donations for intended purposes.

“In the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake last year, Hoosiers reached deep into their wallets to donate and help the victims. But in that outpouring, there were concerns about new and untested relief groups suddenly appearing and soliciting donations online and by email. A few simple precautions will help prevent Hoosiers from being scammed,” Zoeller said.

Tips for donating:

•    Make donations to established organizations with a strong track record of organizing and providing disaster relief.

•    Initiate the donation yourself, rather than responding to online or phone solicitations.

•    Use the web site www.CharityNavigator.org to assist in identifying relief organizations and determining how much of their donations are used to help victims rather than on administrative overhead.

•    To confirm an online donation site is secure so that your financial information won’t be improperly accessed during the transaction, look for “https” in the organization’s website.
“Natural disasters in other nations and here in Indiana – especially during tornado season – always bring out the best qualities of selflessness in Hoosiers. To help the victims of today’s tragedy, we encourage everyone to maximize their generosity by donating smartly and wisely,” Zoeller added

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is the state’s consumer protection agency. More information on avoiding charity scams is available on the Attorney General’s website at www.IndianaConsumer.com.