With all the hurricane talk and destruction over the last week, many are inclined to find a way to help those who have been affected.
"During the past few days, New Yorkers have seen images of people leaving their homes and belongings behind as they wade through flood waters left in Matthew's path," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
New Yorkers are encouraged to help Hurricane Matthew relief efforts, but are advised to follow some tips when deciding how to contribute.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says to give only to established charities and organizations that have experience assisting with disaster relief.
When a charity pops up in response to the hurricane, do a little research first to determine how legitimate it is. If the organization is soliciting in New York it must be registered with the Office of the Attorney General's Charities Bureau. You can check to see if the organization appears on the Attorney General's website and confirm that it is a recognized tax-exempt organization.
The following websites also contain helpful information to evaluate charities:
- American Institute of Philanthropy
- Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
- Charity Navigator
Be cautious with telephone solicitations. If a person calls to solicit funds, ask if it is for a "paid fundraiser." If yes, ask if they are registered in New York. If not, do not contribute.
Before you text a contribution. Check the charity's website or call to confirm it collects contributions via text message. Keep in mind that charities may not receive your text donation until after your phone bill is paid.
Ask how your donation will be used. Ask specifically about the services and organizations your donation will support. Ask if they have worked with local relief organizations and what they plan to do with excess donations. Avoid charities that have emotional appeals, but are vague in answering any questions. Be cautious if an organization will not provide written information about charitable programs and finances when you ask for them.
Avoid unsolicited spam emails. Check the Department of Homeland Security's tips, such as Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks.
Never give cash. Use a credit card or check made payable to the charity.
Be careful about personal information. Avoid giving credit card or personal information over the phone or by text message. Make sure you are familiar with the organization before giving any information at all.
Report suspicious organizations. If you think an organization is trying to scam you, contact the Attorney General's Charities Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-416-8401.