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Beware of 'Sandy' Donation Scams

If you want to help, but don't want to be conned, here's how to verify that a charity is legitimate, the Santa Clara County D.A.'s Office says.

 

The devastation and lives upended by Super Storm Sandy prompts the desire to help, but the beware, the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office warned.

Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados and super storms often have many things in common, including loss  of life and devastation.  

Unscrupulous con artists are already soliciting donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, according to Suzana Gal, Co-Director of the Consumer Mediation Unit at the D.A.'s office. "These crooks claim to represent community organizations or well-known charities. Don’t fall for their pitches when they  call, email you, or even knock on your door."

To make sure your donation for relief efforts reaches those affected by a disaster, the District Attorney’s Office  recommends the following: 

• Send your donation directly to major, established non-profit organizations, such as the Red Cross or The Salvation Army. You can find their contact information online.  

• Verify the legitimacy of a charity with one of the following: 

o GuideStar: www.guidestar.org

o Charity Navigator: www.charitynavigator.org

o California Attorney General’s Office: http://oag.ca.gov/charities/charity-research-tool

o Charity Watch: http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html

Red flags that the solicitor is a con artist: 

• Putting high pressure on you to donate. 

• Asking for cash; offering to stop by your house to pick up a check; or requesting alternate forms of payment, such as a wire transfer. 

• Being unable or unwilling to explain how the donation will be used. 

Do’s and Don’ts:

• Do not click on links contained within any unsolicited emails asking for donations. 

• Do not give out personal information such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, bank account numbers, to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. This may compromise your privacy and result in identity theft. 

• If you donate online, make sure that you enter your bank information only on a secure website. You should see “https” rather than “http” in your browser - and a closed yellow lock on your screen.

 If you have questions or believe you are a victim of a scam, call the District Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Unit at (408) 792-2880.

 

Also on Palo Alto Patch:

Palo Altan Volunteers to Help Sandy Victims

Patch & AOL Send Hurricane Sandy Relief Trucks to East Coast

Are All Americans Responsible for Hurricane Sandy Relief? [POLL]

Local Help in Superstorm Sandy Aftermath

Wells Fargo Donates $5K to Palo Alto Schools

 


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