Macon — Hurricane Florence has met the shores of the east coast. Once it passes, people will begin picking up the pieces of the disaster left behind. That leaves opportunity for scammers to take advantage of generous givers.
"We're at our best when we're doing something for someone else and giving in times of need, it's what we do," said Jeff Blankenship, Vice President of Operations at the Central Georgia office of the Better Business Bureau.
Blankenship said that crowdfunding websites are excellent places to donate to philanthropic causes, but warned that people should still show caution before clicking the donate button online. GoFundMe is one of the most popular and has an A+ rating with the BBB.
"While GoFundme is great and they're very well-intentioned. Just know where your money is going," Blankenship said.
There's nothing wrong with giving, but there are a number of questions a person should ask before making a donation. Blankenship said that doing your research can prevent you from making a big mistake.
"Do they have oversight? Do they have the authority to get in? Are they a new charity?," Blankenship said.
He noted that people in previous natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were unable to give large donations because they weren't properly recognized by disaster relief agencies. Blankenship said going the more established route with organizations like the Red Cross is probably a smarter option.
The BBB has a number of accredited charities they trust to handle all funds appropriately. They can be reached at Give.org..
Blankenship still encourages people to be generous, but asks that everyone do their research.
"It’s your money, do with it as you see fit, but if you don’t do your homework, don’t expect to get a passing grade," he said.
The biggest red flags he said to look out for were brand new charities, sites with spelling mistakes, and campaigns that do not clearly indicate what the money donated will be spent on.