SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna today encouraged Washington residents to support disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina but also cautioned them to be on the lookout for charity scams, including bogus solicitations by e-mail and phone.
“Washington residents should not let cons exploit their generosity,” McKenna said. “I encourage people to do what they can to support victims of Hurricane Katrina by donating directly to familiar charities.”
“As despicable as it sounds, crooks will try to take advantage of tragic situations,” he continued. “We’ve already heard of swindlers using a ploy called ‘phishing,’ sending e-mails that appear to come from respected companies but are actually attempts to misdirect donations or steal personal data that can later be used in identity theft. The e-mails have links embedded in them that will take you to a fake Web site that looks like the Red Cross, for example.”
Consumers should be suspicious of such e-mails and calls from solicitors, especially from unfamiliar groups.
Here are some tips to assure avoid scams and assure your donations make a difference:
- Give to familiar organizations. See suggestions below.
- Confirm that a charity is registered with the Secretary of State’s Office. Call the office’s Charities Information Hotline at (800) 332-4483 or search online at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities.
- Go directly to an organization’s Web site to make a donation. Don’t click on links in e-mails, and be wary of bogus sites that bear similar names to legitimate organizations.
- Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to unknown solicitors.
- Ask for details about how the money will be used and the name, address, and phone number of the organization seeking the donation.
The Attorney General’s Office provides tips on charitable giving on the Consumer Protection section of its Web site at www.atg.wa.gov.
Consumers who believe they may be a victim of charity fraud should contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 551-4636 or file a complaint online at www.atg.wa.gov.
Following is a list of charities that are assisting with the relief effort:
American Red Cross
1-800-HELP NOW (435-7669) English,
Adventist Community Services
America’s Second Harvest
Catholic Charities, USA
Christian Disaster Response
941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Church World Service
Convoy of Hope
Lutheran Disaster Response
Mennonite Disaster Service
Nazarene Disaster Response
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief
1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440
United Methodist Committee on Relief
For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, Attorney General’s Office, (206) 464-6432, KristinA1@atg.wa.gov