Oklahomans should take extra caution and do extra research before donating to charities that claim to benefit wildfire victims, says Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.

“By nature, Oklahomans are giving people who want nothing more than to help their neighbors in a time of need,” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, fraud inevitably follows disasters.”

Charities looking to solicit donations in Oklahoma must be registered through the Secretary of State. A list of registered charities is available on the Secretary of State's website www.sos.ok.gov/charity/.

Hunter’s consumer protection unit offers the following guidelines to avoid becoming a victim of charity fraud:

  • Do not give through social media or crowdfunding websites. These are often unregulated and difficult to track;
  • Do not give cash, credit or debit card numbers;
  • Write a check payable to the charity, not an individual;
  • Be wary of charities that seem to have been formed specifically in response to a particular disaster;
  • Ask for written information regarding the solicitor’s charity, including the name, mission, administrative costs and how your donation will be used;
  • Listen carefully to the name of the purported charity. Scam artists often claim to be associated with a charity that mimics the name of a well-known, reputable organization.

“By thoroughly vetting each organization, or by only giving to familiar charities, individuals looking to help can avoid becoming victims themselves,” said Hunter.

For more information and tips on how to select a charity, visit www.charitywatch.org.

If you think you may have been targeted by a scam, contact the consumer protection unit at 405-521-2029 or your local police department.

Learn more about the current fire situation update from the Oklahoma Forestry Service.