Donating to Philippines typhoon victims? Watch out for scams

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - News of the devastating Super Typhoon "Haiyan" that hit the Philippines has many Hawaii residents, businesses, and agencies seeking ways they can help.

Hawaii residents are known for their generosity, and given the close cultural and historical ties between Hawaii and the Philippines, Hawaii residents will likely generously donate money to aid in rescue and relief efforts.

Attorney General David M. Louie has issued a special consumer alert to encourage Hawaii residents to consider donating to relief organizations, but to first verify the donations are made to reputable charities.  "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy, and I know the people of Hawaii are already looking for ways they can help.  However, we all must be careful of scammers and charlatans" said Louie.

Attorney General Louie urged consumers to consider the following tips before donating to a charity:

*Donate to charities you know and trust.  Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events, like a natural disaster.

*Consider giving to organizations that have a strong history of providing disaster relief, and ask about what percentage of the donation will benefit the relief effort.

*Do not contribute cash.  Make a check or money order payable to the charitable organization, not an individual.

*Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.

*Determine whether the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials, and if so, if it is registered.

*Do not fall for high pressure tactics.  Ask questions, and give only when you are comfortable that the donation will be applied to help the cause.  Legitimate charities will not pressure consumers to donate and will provide as much information as a consumer needs.

*Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser.  If you do not get a clear answer – or if you do not like the answer you receive – consider donating to a different organization.

*Do not give out personal or financial information – including your credit card or bank account number – unless you know the charity is reputable.

*To avoid sham solicitations, contact the charity directly before giving a donation by e-mail or to a door-to-door solicitor.

Finally, Attorney General Louie encourages consumers to review the Attorney General's database of registered charitable organizations at the Attorney General's office website,

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