Utah Better Business Bureau Syrian refugees
Photo by James Gordon / CC BY

Hundreds of thousands of individuals and families are fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands in the Middle East and making their way to Europe seeking refuge. At a time when people are realizing the plight of the Syrian refugees and wanting to help, the Utah Better Business Bureau is offering helpful tips on avoiding scams when donating to charitable organizations that assist these refugees.

“Tragedies generate public sympathy but unfortunately also attract scam fund raising efforts,” says Jane Driggs, president and CEO of the Utah Better Business Bureau. “We are reminding contributors to be on the lookout for questionable solicitors and recommend that they focus giving efforts on charities that already have a presence in the affected areas.”

When donating to assist in the Syrian refugee crisis, keep the following tips in mind to avoid scams.

Be cautious when giving online

Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. Instead, go directly to the charity’s website.

Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity

Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations from bloggers or other websites. The public can go to Give.org to verify if a charity meets the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims

Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs.

Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted area

Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to bring in new aid workers to provide assistance quickly.

Determine if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups

Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to those that have a presence in the region.

For more information, visit the Utah Better Business Bureau website.