MINNEAPOLIS- The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has many people looking for some way to provide assistance. While laudable, one should be careful to make sure their money is getting into the right hands, as there are many scams out their lining the pockets of individuals profiteering off tragedy.
One of the most telling hallmarks of a scam is unsolicited messages for aid via social media, text message or email. The best rule of thumb is to ignore these emails entirely. Givers should be cautious of urls which include the words “Hurricane” or “Harvey”. Most of these will have been setup recently meaning that they are either very new, and may not possess the infrastructure to effectively get the money to the people who need it, or are simply scams. If it is the former, it is perhaps advisable to donate only if you know the person directly. One should also make sure that the place they choose to donate to is in fact that organization. Many scams will have names similar to well known charities.
Crowdfunding, through sites such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter, are also potential scams and should be avoided. Crowdfunding initiatives that are scams are often short or ambiguous on details on where the funds will be going to. It should also be noted that GoFundMe donations are not tax deductible.
If donating, one should specifically avoid wiring money. Wiring money is essentially like giving person cash directly, there is no transactional record and little course for recompense if one later finds out a particular charity is a scam.
Food banks and local church organizations such as Food Bank of Corpus Christi and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston are good examples of local places that will provide relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Minnesota Attorney General has a portion of its website dedicated to verifying the legitimacy of charities, which can be a helpful tool to those looking to donate.
Many Minnesota companies and institutions have already lent help during Hurricane Harvey. MyPillow is planning to send 60,000 MyPillows to shelters and rescue organizations in the Houston area. Many Minnesota dog shelters have agreed to take many of the dogs already in shelters in Texas in order to free up room for the expected increase in stray animals following Hurricane Harvey. Many of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies have donated extensively with Target and General Mills donating the most with some $500,000 according to KARE 11.