Unfortunately, many times in the wake of natural disasters, charity scams claim to use your money for recovery and to help victims, but in fact pocket it for themselves.
So far there has only been anecdotal evidence of questionable organizations taking advantage of the disastrous floods in central and southeastern Pennsylvania, but people should still be cautious about the organizations they donate to. Ronald Ruman, press secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of State, said there are a few ways to tell if a charity is legitimate.
"High pressure tactics and door-to-door solicitations—many times legitimate charities won't do that, and they certainly won't put high pressure on people," Ruman said. "What folks can do is ask for details about the charity. Ask for how much money they actually put towards the particular cause they're raising money for, how much goes to overhead, how much goes to fundraising."
Ruman said any person considering donating to a group should research the charity database on at the Pennsylvania Department of State website or call 800-732-0999 to confirm its legitimacy.
"Any charity that is soliciting in the state of Pennsylvania should be registered. By law they are supposed to be registered," Ruman said.
Ruman also stressed to never pay in cash or write a check to an individual. Checks should always be written to an organization with a recorded address and ways to follow up communication.
"Ask for some documentation, some identification that the person is indeed with that charity. And ask for a place that they can contact the charity if they wanted to," Ruman said. "They should be able to give you an address or phone number that you could be able to follow up with, and if they're reluctant or don't have that information, then I think folks should be particularly wary."