Beware of Charity Rip-Offs Following Washington Wildfires

July 30, 2014

With relief efforts underway in Washington’s Carlton Complex fire, Better Business Bureau along with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman urge consumers to be on the lookout for bogus charities and scammers trying to capitalize on a natural disaster.

Officials warn of slick con artists who pose as agents for official-sounding charities and target well-intentioned donors who want only to help the victims of the fires.

While BBB, the Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of State sympathize with the victims and their loved ones during this tragic time, all three organizations urge donors to give wisely.

  1. Beware of demanding solicitors. Don’t give in to high-pressure tactics and requests for immediate donations. Take time to research the charity and make up your mind.
  2. Use qualified charities. Check to see if the charity has the resources necessary and is equipped to help with disaster relief; otherwise, donations may be not be as effective.
  3. Pay with care. Avoid cash donations; write a check directly to the charity, not the fundraiser; and never give out credit card numbers over the phone.
  4. Verify. Steer clear of “pop-up” charities with unverifiable background and contact information.
  5. Block fake solicitations. Watch out for requests from fake “victims” or memorial social media accounts.

Better Business Bureau, the Washington Attorney General and the Secretary of State advise consumers to contact potential charities directly. For more information on finding charities, visit the Secretary State “Information for Donors” page or call 1-800-332-4483, or, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Consumers can also visit the SOS website for tips on giving wisely. If someone feels they are the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, founded in 1918 and serving more than 9 million consumers, is one of 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In 2014, people turned to BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington more than 5 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 264,000 local businesses and for Charity Reports on more than 1,200 local charities, all available for free at