Be careful with donations for forest fire relief

Bad news and natural disasters are always a haven for scammers

Thousands of Canadians in Western Canada continue to flee raging forest and wild fires who’s effects continue to be felt out here in B.C.  Experts say the current dry conditions and resulting fires are unprecedented. However, as people flee the smoke and flames, those in safer locations run the risk of falling prey to scammers who want to play on our heart strings by claiming to be raising money for those forced from their homes.

“Bad news and natural disasters are always a haven for scammers who think of nothing by stealing your money,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland B.C. “There have been a couple of reports of possible scams in Regina and we just want the public to be cautious if they come across these things online or even from those collecting door to door in the name of forest fire relief. Always be careful who you give money to.”

The CBC news reports that people claiming to be with the Red Cross were out canvassing neighbourhoods in Regina. The Red Cross asserts they are not actively collecting money for forest fire relief but are working with the local governments to provide direct support to evacuees.

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).

• Look for the ‘lock’ icon in the url as well.

• Ask a lot of questions of those asking for money or articles.

• 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.

• 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.