Don't Get Swept Up in Wildfire Charity Scams

Better Business Bureau Issues a Consumer Alert
August 01, 2017

As the nation’s largest wildfires rip through parts of Montana, Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest warns of bogus relief efforts. Consumers looking to aid the families affected by the fires are being asked to research charities first before making a donation.

“Our hearts go out to those who have been displaced and are in need of assistance,” says Tyler Andrew, President and CEO of BBB serving the Northwest. “It’s imperative that we make sure our donations go to the right place. National disasters will often times bring out the best in people, but it also attracts scammers looking to make a fast buck.”

BBB warns of con artists impersonating legitimate charities and creating fake websites with official looking names and logos. Avoid clicking on unsolicited emails with catchy headlines and report scams to BBB Scam Tracker so that consumers can be warned in real time. Watch out for the following tactics when looking to make a donation.

  • Use of crowdfunding sites raising funds for unknown releif efforts.
  • High pressure tactics or deadlines to make a donation.
  • Only accepts cash donations or checks made out to someone personally.
  • Charities that are not transparent about what kind of relief will be offered, how money will be distributed, who will benefit, when it will be allocated and what percentage of donations benefit causes.

BBB advises consumers to research a charity before donating money. Consumers can also search for information on or, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Anyone who feels they are the victim of a scam, should report it to their local law enforcement or with BBB Scam Tracker at

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.