May 24, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today warned Missourians to be aware of disaster-relief scams in the aftermath of the tornado that devastated Joplin on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, there are people who see opportunity in disaster,” Koster said. “Scam artists will show up, pose as charities, and fraudulently solicit donations from people who are anxious to help those in need.”
Koster advises Missourians to be cautious of anyone wanting on-the-spot donations or refusing to provide written, verifiable information about the charitable organization represented. He also said to use a credit card or check for donating so that you have a record of the expense.
In addition, Koster urges Missourians to use Check-a-Charity on the Attorney General’s website at http://www.ago.mo.gov/ to make sure the charity you are considering uses your generous donation wisely. The site lists viable charities and provides information about how much of a charity’s donated money actually goes to the cause as opposed to administrative expenses.
Koster said those wishing to make donations to help the Joplin relief effort can feel safe doing so through established charitable organizations that are already working on the ground in Joplin such as: American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/), Salvation Army (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf) and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (http://www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations/).
Koster said to report disaster-relief scams, call the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or file a consumer complaint online at ago.mo.gov.