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Disaster Relief and Charity Scams
Scam artists see disaster tragedies as opportunities to get rich quick. They know people want to help after a disaster, and scammers take advantage of this good will.
They may make up or impersonate charities. They may claim they are raising money to help with disaster relief. They will include heartbreaking stories to gain sympathy and ask for donations. They may steal the donations along with bank or credit card information.
How to Donate Safely:
- Be wary of messages from unknown organizations. Give to organizations that are well known for giving disaster relief.
- Avoid social media ads to raise money for victims.
- Research the charity and find out if they are registered to receive money (solicit) in Michigan.
- Don’t be pressured. Genuine charities give you time to decide when and what’s right for you.
- Be careful when places say you already gave to them. Especially if you don't remember donating.
- Avoid door-to-door solicitors. Think twice about a charities’ offer to stop by and pick up a check.
- Avoid alleged charities that ask for alternate forms of payment. Real charities never ask for wire transfers, gift cards, or other non-traditional ways.
- Donate to trusted places even if you don’t receive a new offer.
- If you wish to give online, use the charity’s website instead of going through an unknown link.
- Don’t freely hand over money.
- Write your donation check to the organization. Never write a check to an individual. Don’t use initials for the organization’s name.
- Ask for a receipt. The receipt should how much you donated, the date, it’s intended use, and if it’s tax deductible.
- Use caution before giving credit card numbers over the phone or online. Ask them how they will keep you information safe. For more information, see Attorney General's Consumer Alert on Identity Theft.
- Make sure the website is secure before donating online. The address should start with “https". Even secure sites can be "spoofed" by scammers - see Attorney General's Consumer Alert on "Phishing Scams."
If you have been the victim of a disaster-related scam, or if you would like to file a general consumer complaint, please contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division:
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form