ALBANY, Ga. -- Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the coastal areas of New Jersey and New York. People who wish to help should be aware that the unscrupulous could take advantage.
The Better Business Bureau's "Wise Giving Alliance" recommends that people steer clear of Sandy scams. It offers the following tips:
n Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting hurricane victims, the truth is that the organization still has fund-raising and administrative expenses.
n Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the Sandy-affected area. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly.
n Avoid the "middleman" charity. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider "avoiding the middleman" and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region.
n Question gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. The organization needs the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly. Ask about transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance. n Be cautious when giving online. Avoid emails and social media posts that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to donate, go directly to the charity's website. Research charities and relief organizations at bbb.org/charity.