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Beware of tornado benefit scams
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For residents who want to donate to help Chattanooga tornado victims, the Tennessee Secretary of State says be sure you’re giving to a reputable organization.

Officials warn those wanting to make charitable donations to aid those affected by the recent tornadoes to be wary of scams.

Tennesseans once again are coming together to support each other following the recent deadly tornadoes. On Sunday night, Chattanooga was struck with 145 mph winds, resulting in the destruction of at least 150 homes and buildings and injuring more than a dozen people. 

Secretary of State Tre Hargett cautions individuals to be careful when making donations to tornado relief efforts.

“Even during these difficult times, Tennesseans are once again supporting each other through tragedy,” says Hargett. “However, it’s important to pause before making a donation to make sure the organization is legitimate.”

To avoid scams and maximize recovery efforts, Hargett suggests following the tips from the Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming:

• If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, check to see if it’s registered online.

• Take your time. Resist pressure to give on the spot.

• Ask questions. If an organization has a specific mission, ask how and who will benefit from your donation.

• If you are asked for a donation via text or email, verify the request is directly from the charity or nonprofit.

• Do your own research and don’t assume a social media or blog recommendation has been approved by the nonprofit.

• If you give through an app or website, ask if it is going directly to the organization.

• Avoid giving cash. Always ask for a receipt and if your contribution are tax-deductible.

• Pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization, as there are many with similar names.

“We continue to pray for the Tennesseans who lost their lives and property in these deadly tornados, and we thank all those who are working to provide assistance,” says Hargett. 

Any charity that raises over $50,000 a year must register with the Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations. To see if a charity is registered with the State of Tennessee visit, sos.tn.gov/charitable or call the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at 615-741-2555.