Donate to Nepal disaster carefully, BBB urges

A young girl walks with a boy over a collapsed school playground in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015. A strong magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook Nepal's capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley on Saturday, causing extensive damage with toppled walls and collapsed buildings. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

People looking to donate to the relief efforts in Nepal should do so carefully, the Better Business Bureau said.

Sophie Dichter, a spokesperson with the BBB, offered these five tips:

  • Steer clear of high pressure demands. Take time to research charities and avoid emotional appeals that don’t explain how the charity will help victims.
  • Use trustworthy charities. Be sure the charity is equipped and has the resources necessary to help with disaster relief. Contact potential charities directly visit the Secretary State “Information for Donors” page or BBB.org or Give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
  • Avoid cash donations. Write checks or pay by credit card to charities directly. Scammers will try and convince their victims to wire money or use green-dot money cards to make a donation. Never pay or give personal information to a telephone or email solicitor.
  • Double-check. Watch for “pop-up” charities with unverifiable background and contact information. Unscrupulous organizations may try and trip up donors by using names that sounds like reputable charities.
  • Block social media pleas. Be wary of requests from fake “victims” or memorial social media accounts. Remember to verify the organization first before giving a penny.

“Scammers are really smart they know that if they can pull at your heartstrings, you’re more likely to give,” Dichter said.

Anyone who suspects they come across an illegitimate cause should report it to their local law enforcement agency.

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