AG warns of sham charities for Hurricane Harvey victims | News | Palo Alto Online |

News

AG warns of sham charities for Hurricane Harvey victims

Donors called to be on alert for 'look-alike' fraudulent fundraising websites

Californians should be careful when donating money to charities purporting to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, the state's attorney general said Friday.

Sham charities are trying to take advantage of Californians' generosity in response to the hurricane, which has devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.

"Right now, Californians are donating their hard-earned money to help victims of Hurricane Harvey," Becerra said in a statement. "Unfortunately, some are ... starting fake charities to line their own pockets."

The attorney general said, "We need to do our best to ensure that every dollar goes directly to those in need."

He encouraged anyone who has been a victim of a charitable giving scam to file a complaint through his office.

Becerra said donors should check the registration status of the organization at www.oag.ca.gov/charities. Charities operating in California and telemarketers soliciting donations must register with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Donors also should review the charity's purpose and its financial records on the registry, and find out how the charity spends donations.

Becerra advised finding out how much is spent directly on the charitable cause and how much goes to employee salaries and overhead.

It's also important to resist pressure from telemarketers and ask questions before donating.

Donors should ask for the name of the fundraising organization, whether it's registered with the attorney general, the name of the charity benefiting from the solicitation, how much will go to charity and how much to the telemarketer, and the direct telephone number of the charity.

Donors should be on the alert for "look-alike," fraudulent websites that mirror legitimate sites, Becerra said. The URLs, or Web addresses, of the fraudulent sites will likely differ slightly from those of the real sites.

Some organizations will use names that closely resemble those of well-established charitable organizations to mislead donors. Residents should be skeptical if someone thanks them for a pledge they never made, and check their records.

Donors should never give their Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information in response to a charitable solicitation, Becerra said, adding that it's a good idea to look at the charity's privacy policy and learn who the charity might share a donor's

personal information with before sharing it.

Anyone who fears they have been taken advantage of by a sham charity should call the attorney general's office at (800) 952-5225 or file a complaint online at https://oag.ca.gov.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

— Bay City News Service

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Pluto's appears to close after more than two decades in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 14 comments | 7,286 views

What Local Teens are Saying
By Sherry Listgarten | 19 comments | 2,963 views

Plastic vegie bag ban: Pragmatic? -- or simply politically correct?
By Diana Diamond | 35 comments | 2,177 views

Edible Education – Free Course - UC Berkeley Online
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,536 views

Letting Christmas Linger
By Cheryl Bac | 5 comments | 691 views

 

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 26 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away more than $7 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. When you make a donation, every dollar is automatically doubled, and 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.

DONATE HERE