Donation scams on the rise after Hurricane Ian

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Hurricane Ian left families in Florida without food, water, and shelter. There are ways to help, but area nonprofits are warning people to do research first.

When disaster strikes nationwide, people look for ways to help.

“The generosity of our local communities is so important and it’s evident when disasters like this happen,” said Kyle Kriegl, the executive director of Southwest Wisconsin Red Cross.

Along with people looking to donate are people looking to take advantage.

“Anytime that there is a disaster or tragedy, we see a lot of scammers come out of the woodwork,” said Lisa Schiller, the director of investigations at the Better Business Bureau.

According to Schiller, following Hurricane Ian, scams are on the rise.

“Generally by creating fake websites, creating websites with charity names that are very similar,” said Schiller.

Schiller encourages people to donate to charities who are in Florida and South Carolina.

“You wanna basically support charities that have an on the ground presence,” said Schiller.

Red Cross is just one of the charities providing in person. relief

“You know, this disaster, we’re going to be there for quite some time. You know, weeks and months ahead,” said Kriegl.

Kriegl says when donating, clarify what disaster relief you want to contribute to.

“So if a donor designates it to go to Hurricane Ian, those funds will go directly to Hurricane Ian,” said Kriegl.

While some charities may look for food and clothing donations, Schiller says shipping physical items is not always the most effective form of relief.

“Donating money really is the quickest way to help,” Schiller said.

Regardless of how you choose to donate, Schiller says always do your homework.

“Donate to somebody you know or are familiar with,” she said.

To find out if a charity is approved by the BBB, go to www.give.org and type in the name of the charity you wish to find.