Millions have been affected by Hurricane Harvey and flooding in the southeastern United States. As those still stranded wait for help and those who have evacuated wait to return home, it’s hard to remain untouched by the hardship and loss so many are now facing.
Caring individuals and charitable organizations from around the world are showing up to help the humans and animals who need it most, but the crisis has also presented an opportunity for despicable scams.
Trust your charity
The federal government, recognizing such scams as a threat to those whose acts of giving could otherwise provide much needed assistance, has released its own warning, “Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.” The FTC recommends only giving to charities you know and trust, being wary of new charities you’ve never heard of, and designating that you want your donation earmarked for “disaster relief” instead of a general fund.
Do your homework
A little research goes a long way, and in the case of so-called charity efforts on the internet, it could also be used against you.
“[R]emain vigilant for malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on interest in Hurricane Harvey,” an advisory from US-CERT, a cybersecurity arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, read on Monday, August 28. “Emails requesting donations from duplicitous charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters.”
According to the Washington Post, in the few days following Harvey, there were multiple GoFundMe.com pages set up for the displaced Richard family, just after they had been seen on television being airlifted to safety from their flooded apartment building.
“I was just told there are people making fake fund me pages on my behalf,” Jeremiah Richard told the Washington Post. “A lot of people have been trying to contact me making sure they have the right page.”
The following resources are helpful in researching charities and how they use their donations:
Put Your Money Where It Matters
The rules for animal causes are no different than those for human-centered causes. If you’re giving to a shelter that’s helping animals affected by Hurricane Harvey, you should probably check the address to make sure it matches up with their aim and capability.
The Washington Post recommends looking up local nonprofits if the idea of donating to a large charity isn’t appealing. But always remember to call first to work out the details.
Facilities local to Harvey’s wake include the Houston Humane Society, the San Antonio Humane Society, and the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but a number of other organizations are offering crucial help where it’s needed most. Click the button below to learn more about how you can help the animals left homeless after Hurricane Harvey.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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