In wake of Hurricane Harvey, officials say consumers should research charities before giving
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and historic flooding across southeast Texas, Commissioner Adam H. Putnam advises Floridians to visit FloridaConsumerHelp.com to research charitable organizations before donating money to help those in need.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Texas, and I hope that Floridians can respond with the same generosity that our state has received time and time again,” Putnam said in a prepared statement. “But before giving your hard-earned money, I encourage Floridians to do their research, as fraudulent charities may be created to take advantage of people’s empathy and generosity.”
Most charitable organizations that are located in Florida or soliciting donations within Florida are required to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services prior to soliciting contributions. Charitable organizations not located in Florida or soliciting donations in Florida are not required to register with the department.
Consumers can help protect themselves from charity-related scams by:
* Checking to see if a charitable organization is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by visiting FloridaConsumerHelp.com;
* Asking questions, such as: “Who is the fundraiser and who will benefit from the donation?”; “How much of the contribution goes to the charity mentioned in the request”; and “How much of the donation goes toward administrative and fundraising expenses?”;
* Researching the charitable organization at FloridaConsumerHelp.com to see how much of a donation will go toward the individuals the charity intends to help versus operating expenses;
* Reading the Gift Giver’s Guide available on-line; and
Reporting any suspicious charitable solicitations by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).
Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services