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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Ukraine Donations

Ukraine country map .
suprunvitaly/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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iStockphoto
Photo of a map of Ukraine and the capital Kiev .

This week we’re talking about Ukraine donations. Harrowing scenes of refugees from the Ukraine conflict may prompt many people to look for ways to help by donating time or money to help those in need.

BBB reminds donors to make sure they’re donating to real nonprofits who are able to deliver aid where it’s needed. Publicity about wars and disasters often is used by scammers to solicit money that never reaches those who need it.

BBB offers the following tips to help Americans decide where to direct donations. Rely on respected experts to evaluate a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or social media personalities, because they may not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. BBB Charity Reviews are available for more than 11,000 charities, indicating whether a charity complies with BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations assist victims. All charities have fundraising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. Be cautious when giving online to unfamiliar charities. Be wary of spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. After recent natural disasters, many websites and organizations that were created overnight allegedly to help victims turned out to be scams. Find out if the charity has a presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the affected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers into the area to provide assistance. Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. You may want to avoid the middleman and give directly to charities that are working in the region. Check out the ultimate recipients of the donations to ensure that the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.