In the wake of devastating wildfires in East Tennessee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett is urging people to use caution when trying to help fire victims.
"Tennesseans are among the most generous people in our country and I know that we will support our fellow Tennesseans in their hour of need. Please be diligent in giving to only reputable organizations so that we can best assist the people of Gatlinburg and Sevier County," said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "Do not be pressured into giving cash donations to people that you don't know. Unfortunately, during disasters there are scam artists who prey on our generosity. However, I still encourage Tennesseans to be generous but smart about contributions so that we maximize recovery efforts."
If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, check to see if it's registered with the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming.
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 it 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 is tax deductible.
Pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization, as there are many with similar names.
"We will continue to pray for those who have lost so much during these devastating fires and for the people who are dedicated to providing tireless assistance and support during this recovery effort," Secretary Hargett said. To find information about charities or solicitors, visit sos.tn.gov/Charitable or call the division at 615-741-2555 or toll free at 800-861-7393.