The Do’s and Don’ts of Donating After Hurricane Harvey

By: Megan Makuck, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

For most, natural disasters bring out the charitable side of people, but not everyone shares this warm hospitality. Scammers see these horrible occurrences as opportunities to take advantage of our generosity. Hurricane Harvey is no exception. People in Texas lost their homes, their jobs, maybe even friends or family. They are in a time of need, and we want to help these people. But before you run to your checkbook, do your homework to ensure you are not signing up for a disaster fraud. Below are the Do’s and Don’ts of donating after a natural disaster.

Do.

Donate to charities you were previously familiar with before Hurricane Harvey hit. The charities that arise out of the blue after the natural disaster are the ones that are more likely to be scams.

Select the natural disaster specifically when donating. Sometimes donations go to a general fund. You can specifically indicate that you want your money to go towards Hurricane Harvey relief.

Research any new hurricane investments. Be wary of funds that predict quick turn-around growth for Houston or any other damaged nearby towns. Be skeptical of funds that mention any contract or affiliation with federal government agencies. And be most concerned when you are pressured to invest right now.

Don’t.

Don’t trust unsolicited emails. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Go to the source of the email to learn more about the charity or investment fund. Also, don’t click on any links in an email. It could download malware onto your computer.

Don’t assume all the links on Facebook or other social media sites are real. Don’t depend on someone else’s research as a substitute for your own. Research the organizations or investment funds others are donating to before giving any of your own money.

Donating money is a meaningful and impactful way to help those harmed by Hurricane Harvey. To learn more about disaster frauds and how to safely donate, visit FINRA or the SEC.