Vancouver, BC – Thousands of British Columbians have been forced from their homes due to the massive wildfire activity in the province. This, of course, means pressure on support groups like the Red Cross and local community centres. However, when bad things happen, scammers can and will take advantage of your good nature.
“We are always on the lookout for scams involving financial donations,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Crooks think nothing of going door-to-door asking for money and there have been reports of fake Red Cross canvassers in the past. We have seen plenty of fraudulent crowdfunding sites set up as well. It’s easy to do. We just need to exercise caution before handing over money or credit card information.”
BBB offers tips when it comes to giving:
* Always give to organizations you are comfortable with and have given to in the past.
* Check with the Canada Revenue Agency to see if it is a legitimate charitable organization.
* Donate with a credit card or online portals such as PayPal.
* Avoid donating cash.
* If online, check the website URL for https:// (the ‘s’ means the site is secure and the information is encrypted). Look for the ‘lock’ icon in the URL as well.
* Ask a lot of questions of those asking for money or articles.
* Do they understand the organization’s mission and vision?
* Ask for identification and contact numbers.
* Do they offer tax receipts?
* Be very wary of ‘crowdfunding’ portals as ways to raise money. These are very quickly and easily set up and have been fronts for scams in the past. They are NOT registered charities.
* Most charitable organizations do not solicit door to door.
* Avoid being pressured to give money.
* Keep your emotions in check; con artists strike when emotions are running high.
* Delete any questionable emails and pop-ups soliciting for donations.
* Check with your local government if they are actively collecting money or donations.
The Red Cross is responding to meet the needs of communities affected by the fires by (From redcross.ca):
* Providing registration services on behalf of the Province of B.C. and encouraging ALL evacuees to register with them.
* Registering will help us know where everyone is and that they’re safe. It will also allow us to contact people directly as more information and assistance become available. It also allows us to help reunite families separated by the disaster.
* Activating its disaster response volunteers.
* Having additional volunteers and supplies pre-positioned across the country ready to be deployed, if needed.
For more information on what the Red Cross is doing and how you can help, go to redcross.ca