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As we welcome members of our UNC Wilmington family and mourn the devastation in The Bahamas, our hearts go out to all of those affected by Hurricane Dorian. It is at times like these when we all feel the need to roll up our sleeves and do something, anything, to help our neighbors and communities—and we want to do it now.

Donating money is the fastest way to help in times of crisis. But, sadly, fraudsters can take advantage of our urgency to help. Fake charities are one of the scams we covered on our Nasty 9 list. Below are some red flags that you should keep in mind to make sure that your gifts will get to those in need, not thieves.

Consider donating to another organization if:

You don’t recognize the name of the charity.
Never heard of them?  Be skeptical. Legit-looking emails, letters, websites, are relatively easy to create. Investigate the charity by doing a simple internet search, or checking organizations that monitor charities, such as  BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and/or GuideStar.

You feel pressured to give.
Real charities don’t pressure donors to make donations, nor will they make you feel selfish or guilty.

They thank you for a previous donation that you’ve never made. 
Scammers rely on shaky memories and try to fake their way into your good graces by pretending to already know you to get you to give money with minimal questions asked.

Only certain kinds of payment are accepted, or forms of payment that make no sense are requested
Be wary of demands for cash-only,  prepaid gift cards, or checks made out to an individual, not the charity. Most legitimate charities take credit card transactions and all take checks made out to the organization. Give money in ways that are trackable, and always demand a receipt with the charity’s information on it.

Donations are tied to sweepstakes winnings. 
This practice is illegal, and should be reported to your state’s Office of the Attorney General consumer hotline.