Helping victims of Hurricane Harvey: Check out charities before donating

DENVER — Officials are warning people who want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey to make sure their money goes to people who really need it and not scam artists posing as charitable organizations.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is urging people who want to make contributions to research the charity before making a donation.

“It is important for Coloradans to research the charities they support and trust that their donations are being used prudently,” he said. “To this end, we encourage everyone to use CheckTheCharity.com to learn more about their favorite charities before making donations.”

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office offered tips to try to avoid charity scams.

  1. Ask for the registration number of the charity and paid solicitor.
  2. Make a note of the individual caller’s first and last name and the name of the telemarketing company that employs the caller.
  3. Ask the solicitor how much of the donation will go to the charity, whether the donation is tax deductible, and what charitable programs it will support.
  4. If solicited in person, ask for the solicitor’s identification and registration number.
  5. Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor, and beware if they thank you for making a pledge you don’t remember making. If you feel uncomfortable, just say, “No, thank you.”
  6. Do not pay in cash. Donate by check made payable to the charity or use the charity’s website to donate by credit card.
  7. Make sure you are visiting the official website of the charity you wish to support, and beware of lookalike websites, especially if you are asked to provide personal financial information.
  8. Research the charity’s disclosure and financial statements on the Secretary of State’s website.
  9. Be wary if the charity fails to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, finances and how the donation will be used. Reputable charities will gladly provide the information requested.
  10. Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. These sound-alike names are intended to confuse.