BBB warns consumers to be cautious when giving to Nepal earthquake victims

Image courtesy of Naypong at
Image courtesy of Naypong at

Currently, the death toll from the weekend’s earthquake in Nepal is 3,800 and rising. The survivors are going to need a lot of help and many Americans will be looking for ways to donate time and money.

Before you get out your credit card, however, Your BBB warns you to be cautious. Scammers and fraudulent businesses often take advantage of tragic events and prey on the people who are trying to help others.

BBB advises consumers to donate to charities listed with BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

The American Red Cross is an accredited charity with WGA and is accepting donations.

Tips for giving with confidence:

  • Thoughtful Giving. Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort.
  • Help spread the Wise Giving Word. Remind your friends and family to be cautious about giving requests in the wake of such a tragedy and ask them to spread the word as well.
  • Online Cautions. Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted.
  • Financial Transparency. After funds are raised for a tragedy, it is even more important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out and not have to wait until the audited financial statements are available sometime in the future.
  • Newly Created or Established Organizations. This is a personal giving choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly formed organization may be well-meaning but will be difficult to check out and may not be well managed.
  • Tax Deductibility. Not all organizations collecting funds to assist this tragedy are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors can support these other entities but keep this in mind if they want to take a deduction for federal income tax purposes. In addition, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual/family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.