Beware scam charities for Hurricane Dorian victims, state says

Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1. Pierre Markuse photo via flickr

State agents are looking into 140 real or purported charities that have sprung up online to raise cash for Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried announced Friday.

Agents of Fried’s Division of Consumer Services are contacting these entities, some operating via GoFundMe or other web platforms, to explain that they need to register as charities, the commissioner said in a press release issued by her office.

“To anyone thinking about defrauding Floridians with fake charities after Hurricane Dorian – think again. We are the state agency responsible for regulating charities, we are watching, and we will take action,” Fried said.

“Bad actors taking advantage of generosity will not be tolerated, especially after disasters like Hurricane Dorian.”

Fried recommended checking whether an apparent charity might be a scam by referring to her office’s Check-A-Charity tool – among other resources on the department’s website. Consumers also can call 1-800-HELP-FLA, and identify reputable charities on this page.

Additionally, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance screens charities, Fried said. She suggested asking organizations what the money would pay for and, if you’re solicited for a donation, request written information about the organization.

Not every gift qualifies for a tax deduction, but the Internal Revenue Service website allows donors to search for tax-exempt organizations.

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