The Better Business Bureau warns Americans concerned about Russia’s attacks on Ukraine to beware of donation scams.
Russia launched a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, February 24, “bombarding towns, villages and villages” as forces advanced towards the capital of Kiev.
The eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has been surrounded and Russian forces are hitting Kiev with rockets as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee west. Other countries around the world, including the United States, have imposed strict sanctions on Russia.
The attacks caught the eyes of the world, and images and videos of Ukrainians fleeing the country or begging for peace left people across the United States wondering what they could do to help.
But “bad actors often try to take advantage of people’s goodwill,” Lisa Frohnapfel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan, said in a statement, according to M Live.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers several tips on its website on how donors can tell a legitimate aid effort from a scam.
First, the office recommends that donors check whether a charity already has a presence in Ukraine. If not, they may not be well equipped to provide help quickly.
Donors should also ask themselves what to give. It may not be wise for Americans to try to send food or clothing to Ukraine themselves, according to the organization.
Instead, they should aim to support aid organizations that can obtain all necessary supplies and distribute them through their established networks. This reduces logistical challenges, avoids duplication of effort and helps ensure that aid reaches people who need it, the website says.
Americans should also research whether organizations they would like to support have helped Ukrainians in the past.
“Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible,” the BBB said on its website. “New entrants may struggle to keep up even if they have the best intentions.”
The BBB is also warning donors to keep an eye out for organizations making lofty claims, including that 100% of all donations will go directly to those in need.
“Charities have fundraising and administrative expenses,” the organization said on its website. “Any charity that claims otherwise is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will incur a processing fee.
If people are considering donating to crowdfunding campaigns, they should check the platform’s policies and make sure they’re donating to reputable people or causes, the BBB said on its website.
“Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals or organizations that decide to post humanitarian aid,” the BBB said. “Sites that take security measures will usually provide descriptions of those procedures.”
Finally, donors should check whether the organization they wish to support meets BBB Charity standards. The BBB has compiled a list of charities that raise aid for Ukraine and meet the organization’s standards for accountability for charities, which depend on many factors, including the effectiveness of a charity, its level of oversight and whether there have been any complaints against the organization.
Other tips not on the BBB’s list include being wary of social media posts, emails or text messages containing unknown links; research charities that appear to have only surfaced since the attacks began on February 24; and avoiding high-pressure introductions and requests to send money, Fox 6 reported.
“You want to make sure your donation is used as intended, so it’s important to take the time and make sure the charity you’re working with can deliver on its promises and support,” Frohnapfel said, according to Ms. Live.