Consumer Protection Advocate Mike Bannon joined Chris Ermer on UpWords Tuesday to discuss people’s generosity in donating to the victims of Hurricane Florence. While the American Red Cross and other similar organizations can largely be trusted, Bannon warned of lesser known charities.
“We’re always concerned about the ones that pop up that we don’t have much history with or they solicit by telephone or email,” Bannon said. “Those are red flags. You should really be concerned if they’re fundraising that way.”
However, the consumer protection advocate understands sometimes there are smaller groups doing good work for the hurricane victims.
“You want to make sure it’s a registered organization, which you can do at websites like Charity Navigator,” Bannon said. “But my best advice is to stick with what you know if you want to donate.”
Bannon’s advice resonates with information in an article released last week by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC warns against several scamming tactics like using a name similar to a real charity, rushing their victims into giving money, and claiming their donations are tax-deductible when they are not. The IRS offers a service for people who want to check if their potential charity of choice is tax-deductible.
Some organizations have even gone as far as to tell people donating will enter them into a giveaway sweepstakes, which is both a scam and illegal.
Most states require charities to register before they are eligible to receive donations.
If anyone has questions about a specific organization, or just wants to ensure their donations go to the people who really need them, they should contact the Bucks County Consumer Protection Office at (215) 348-6060. General tips and overviews are available on the consumer protection website.
Catch Mike Bannon and more consumer protection tips on UpWords with Chris Ermer Tuesdays at 1 p.m. right here on WBCB 1490 AM.