Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt Issues Consumer Warning to Oklahomans in Aftermath of Japanese Disaster
Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt today issued a warning for Oklahomans to be mindful of potential scams and consumer fraud when they donate to earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan.
“Oklahomans are known for their generosity toward fellow citizens and other nations at times of need. But, before they donate to a relief effort, especially for such a large disaster, they need to make sure their donations are sent to a reputable, established charitable organization,” Pruitt said. “The last thing we want is for Oklahomans to give their hard-earned money to help others and have it stolen through fraud instead of reaching those they intended to help.”
Pruitt urged consumers to consider the following tips before donating to a charity:
- Don't contribute cash. Make a check or money order payable to the charitable organization, not an individual;
- Consider giving to organizations that have a strong history in providing disaster relief, and ask about what percentage of the donation will benefit the relief effort;
- Don't fall for high-pressure tactics. Ask questions, and donate only when you feel comfortable that the donation will be applied to help the cause. Remember that legitimate charities won't pressure consumers to donate and will provide as much information as a consumer seeks;
- To avoid sham solicitations, contact the charity directly before giving a donation by e-mail or to a door-to-door solicitor;
- Be wary of names that sound similar to reputable organizations. Scam artists may sometimes use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate charities;
- Finally, Pruitt encourages consumers to review charities online at www.charitynavigator.org. The Office’s Public Protection Unit also can provide important information about local charities.
Consumers with questions may call the Oklahoma Attorney General's Public Protection Unit at (405) 521-3921 and ask for a consumer representative or file a complaint online at www.oag.ok.gov.