OKLAHOMA CITY – As wildfires continue to wreak havoc on western Oklahoma, many Oklahomans are wanting to help those affected by the fire.
While fire victims and volunteer fire departments are in need, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is urging Oklahomans to use caution before making a donation to an unknown charity.
“By nature, Oklahomans are giving people who want nothing more than to help their neighbors in a time of need,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Unfortunately, fraud inevitably follows disasters, which is why I am urging Oklahomans to use caution and research organizations and charities claiming to be providing aid to victims of wildfires. By thoroughly vetting each organization, or by only giving to familiar charities, individuals looking to help can avoid becoming victims themselves.”
Charities looking to solicit donations in Oklahoma must be registered through the Secretary of State. To view a list of those charities, go here.
Also, the attorney general’s office is offering the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of a scam:
- Do not give through social media or crowdfunding websites. They are often unregulated and difficult to track.
- Do not give cash, credit or debit card numbers. Instead, write a check that is payable to the charity, not an individual.
- Be wary of charities that seem to have been formed specifically in response to a particular disaster.
- Ask for written information regarding the solicitor’s charity including the name, mission, administrative costs and how your donations will be used.
- Listen carefully to the name of the purported charity. Scam artists often claim to be associated with a charity that mimics the name of a well-known, reputable organization.
To report suspected fraud or scams, contact the attorney general’s consumer protection unit at (405) 521-2029.