When a disaster like Hurricane Ike hits the Lone Star State, residents always respond with generosity to help their fellow Texans. Ask for credentials, including the exact name and telephone number of the organization, particularly if the charity is unfamiliar;
But Attorney General Greg Abbott reminds Texans to check the facts before opening their wallets to make sure they are not handing over their money to a scam artist.
"Door-to-door, telephone and e-mail solicitations should be treated cautiously and should be fully researched," Abbott said in a consumer alert released in the days following Hurricane Ike.
The Texas Attorney General gave the following suggestions to handle a solicited request:
Call the charity directly and confirm that the solicitor is actually associated with it;
Look out for questionable charities using names that closely resemble those of well-known charities;
Find out how the donation will be used;
Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion and short on descriptions about providing help to those in need;
Don't succumb to high-pressure tactics and demands for an immediate decision. A legitimate charity welcomes background checks on their operations;
Never give a credit card or bank account number to a telephone solicitor;
Never give cash and never agree to give money to a courier. Write a check in the name of the charity, not the individual doing the asking, and get a receipt.
Texans who wish to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office regarding suspicious charities may call the Consumer Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.