Attorney General Larry Long Warns Consumers about Katrina Relief Scams
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Larry Long said today that South Dakotans should expect to be contacted by unscrupulous scammers looking for donations to help the victims in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
"South Dakota consumers are very generous individuals. When disaster hits we will help, but proceed with caution when choosing a charity," said Long. "Relief efforts are being hindered by scam artists who are taking advantage of your good will."
Here are a few tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Don’t be fooled by "sound-alike" charities. Many scam artists use names that are designed to resemble well-known charities. Don’t assume a charity is legitimate based on its name.
- Donors should also be particularly wary of solicitations from professional telemarketers. Telemarketing firms keep most of the money they raise and give only a small portion of the money to charity. Instead, individuals should send their donations directly to a charity to maximize the amount of funds available to assist the victims of tragedy.
- Be skeptical of e-mail requests for donations by unfamiliar organizations or those pretending to be well-known charities. This is just another attempt to obtain your personal identifying information.
- Be cautious of anyone wanting on-the-spot donations or refusing to provide written information. Do not contribute if they refuse to send the information.
- Do not give a credit card number or checking account number over the phone and do not send cash.
- The best way to ensure that the charity of your choice receives your donation is to request a return envelope. Once you receive the information in the mail use a credit card or check so that you have a record of your expense.
For more information about charitable giving, contact the South Dakota Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or http://atg.sd.gov/Consumers.aspx.