The beautiful thing about humanity is that whenever there’s a tragedy, we pull together to help each other out. With North and South Carolina being battered by Hurricane Florence, many are looking for ways to provide relief for victims. During this time, however, Secretary of State Kim Wyman encourages Washingtonians to be cautious of scams.

“When there is a natural disaster such as Hurricane Florence, scam artists unfortunately try to take advantage of people’s compassion,” Wyman said. “As in any time of need, generous Washingtonians are looking for ways they can help. We want to ensure their donations go to a reputable organization with a proven record of good service.”

A joint program between the Washington’s Secretary of State and Attorney General called GiveSmart provides tools so people can make informed choices about which organizations they donate to.

Some of the advice offered includes:

  • Offer donations to charities you’re familiar with. Before donating, do an online search of the charity name along with “complaints” or “scams.”
  • Confirm the organization’s registration status with the Secretary of State at: sos.wa.gov/charities or by calling 1-800-332-4483.
  • Don’t succumb to high-pressure tactics of phone solicitors.
  • Never give out credit card numbers over the phone, and avoid cash donations. Instead, write a check directly to the charity as opposed to a fundraiser.
  • Be cautious of charities with “sympathetic-sounding” names, or names similar to big-name monikers.
  • Report suspicious or deceptive solicitors by contacting the Consumer and Business Fair Practice Division of Washington State Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-800-551-4636 or filing a complaint online: fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx