Better Business Bureau offers fire-relief tips

Before writing a check to help victims of the recent fires in Southern California, the Better Business Bureau suggests, donors should safeguard against would-be scammers.

To make sure contributions are going to reputable relief organizations, the bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance says, would-be donors should adhere to few guidelines.

Be suspicious of groups that do not want to answer questions about their programs or finances, the alliance says, and steer clear of those that try to copy the name or style of well-known charities in an attempt to confuse donors.

Charities should be able to describe in detail how donations will be used to help fire victims and they never should use high-pressure sales tactics to solicit donations.

Also, look for charities that are experienced in conducting relief efforts, rather than groups that may be new to the practice.

When making a donation, avoid giving cash and never provide credit card or other personal information over the phone or in response to an email solicitation.

To read detailed reports on many relief agencies, the Alliance suggests visiting

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