As Maui, Hawaii reels from the devastating wildfires that killed more than 100 people, many across the country are trying to find ways to help those impacted.
Unfortunately, whenever weather disasters strike, scammers are quick to follow.
Donating money is typically the easiest and most effective way to help. As you look to make sure your donation goes to people in need, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offered some tips to avoid falling into a scam:
- Donate to charities you know and trust, and who have a proven track record dealing with disasters.
- Do a little research on the organization yourself, especially if the donation request comes on social media. Search the organization’s name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.” Check them out on resources like the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Guide. If the request was from a friend, ask them if they know the organization themselves.
- Be cautious about giving to individuals on crowdfunding sites. If you’re considering it, make sure to give to someone you personally know and trust is safe. You may also want to review the platform’s policies and procedures – some sites take measures to vet postings asking for help after a disaster, but others don’t.
- Don’t donate to anyone who insists you pay only by cash, gift card, wiring money, or cryptocurrency.
- Confirm the number before you text to donate. Go straight to the charity – is it their number?
When it comes to Maui, the New York Times listed a few vetted organizations and mechanisms to help residents and businesses recover from the fires’ devastation:
- American Red Cross
- The Hawaii Community Foundation, an organization supporting affected communities through the Maui Strong Fund.
- Maui United Way, which is providing direct relief to families and nonprofits affected by the wildfires.
- Maui Food Bank, whose website includes information on how to hold a virtual food drive.
- Maui Humane Society, which is working to provide care to pets in need.