Caution urged over fake ‘pop-up charities’ preying on Michael donors

Caution urged over fake ‘pop-up charities’ preying on Michael donors

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Better Business Bureau of Alabama is warning the public to “be careful before you donate to charity.” The warning comes nearly a week after Hurricane Michael made landfall along the Florida Panhandle.

“These pop-up charities just appear overnight claiming they want to assist the victims," David Smitherman, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Alabama, said. "There are many instances of these pop-up charities who really just take your money and run. They pop up overnight and they’re gone overnight.”

Smitherman said fake charities have grown over the years.

“Now, you’re seeing fake things pop up on Facebook or other social media platforms where you’re clicking on a link because it looks like a good thing, and you give money to it and you just never know what happens to the money,” Smitherman said.

That’s why he said it’s important to do your research before donating to any organization.

“You want to make sure that you’re giving to a legitimate organization who can make your donation go the farthest it can go," Smitherman stated, because often times, the “fake charities” look legitimate.

“There are some charities that sound a lot like legitimate charities. You really need to look in your browser or look at the URL to make sure that it’s the legitimate charity that it claims to be, because sometimes it’ll be off by a letter and you don’t even notice it until after you donate,” Smitherman pointed out.

Before you donate, it’s important to research do some research on the charity. You can either do a quick Google search or visit

“Most of the fake charities want money in order to drain your bank account. You also have to be careful about having your identity stolen," Smitherman cautioned. "If they’re asking for very personal information, don’t give it.”

No matter what charity you decide to donate to, Smitherman said it’s important to always use your credit card, not your debit card.

“Your debit card gives them access to your bank account,” Smitherman said.

According to Smitherman, the safest thing you can do is donate to organizations like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.