Friday, September 19, 2008

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Hurricane Consumer Alert: Give Wisely After Hurricane Ike

When disaster strikes, many Texans want to make generous donations to charitable organizations. Before reaching for their wallets, Texans should ask questions and check the facts to make sure they are not about to hand their money over to a scam artist posing as a charitable cause.
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Disaster Scams Poster

Door-to-door, telephone and e-mail solicitations should be treated cautiously and should be fully researched. When an individual knocks on the door or calls asking for a charitable donation to help in the relief effort, Texans should keep the following tips in mind:


  • Ask for credentials, including the exact name and telephone number of the organization, particularly if the charity is unfamiliar;
  • Call the charity directly and confirm that the solicitor is actually associated with it;
  • Look out for questionable charities using names that closely resemble those of well-known charities;
  • Find out how the donation will be used;
  • Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion and short on descriptions about providing help to those in need;
  • Don’t succumb to high-pressure tactics and demands for an immediate decision. A legitimate charity welcomes background checks on their operations;
  • Never give a credit card or bank account number to a telephone solicitor;
  • Never give cash and never agree to give money to a courier. Write a check in the name of the charity, not the individual doing the asking, and get a receipt.


Texans who wish to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office regarding suspicious charities may call the Consumer Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.