Commercial Risk Advisor - April 2018

Insurance carriers, courts and regulatory agencies will begin to examine businesses closely to ensure that they take sexual harassment seriously and take steps to protect their employees and customers.

It’s always been important to protect your business and employees from sexual harassment, but recent high-profile cases show the importance of re-examining this topic at your business. Social movements such as the “Me Too” campaign have drawn attention to sexual harassment in the workplace, resulting in a growing number of misconduct allegations. These allegations can result in a wide variety of claims and lead to serious financial and reputational damage.

Insurance carriers, courts and regulatory agencies will begin to examine businesses closely to ensure that they take sexual harassment seriously and act to protect their employees and customers.

3 Questions to Ask When Addressing Sexual Harassment at Your Business:

How do you encourage employees to report inappropriate conduct?

The best way to address sexual harassment allegations is to respond quickly. Employees should be regularly reminded that there won’t be any retaliation for reporting inappropriate behavior. You should also ensure that there are multiple ways for employees to make anonymous reports to management.

Does your employee harassment training address your workplace’s unique traits?

A standard workplace policy is a good starting point for addressing sexual harassment, but you should also think about how your employees interact with co-workers and customers.

Do your insurance policies include exclusions for sexual harassment?

Many commercial general liability policies exclude claims for sexual harassment. Although employment practices liability insurance can provide you with coverage, you also need to ensure that policy periods offer coverage throughout the statute of limitations in your area.

1 in 8 drivers are uninsured and liable for damage and medical bills, according to a new study.

Even if you don't use commercial vehicles, employees who use their personal vehicles for any kind of business-related task can put you at risk:

25% of all vehicles in the United States are used for business in some way.
The average uninsured motorist claim is almost $20,000
Most personal auto policies don't provide coverage for uninsured or underinsured drivers without an endorsement.

Uninsured drivers cause about 1 out of every 8 accidents.

3 Defensive Driving Tips That Could Save Your Life

Many jobs require employees to drive a company vehicle. While most drivers are cautious and attentive, accidents can occur without warning—even if the operator has years of experience.

When accidents happen, it can be incredibly costly for employers. What’s more, just one accident can cost employees their job or lead to serious, debilitating injuries.

One way to stay safe while you’re on the road for a job is through defensive driving. Being a defensive driver means driving to prevent accidents in spite of the actions of others or the presence of adverse driving conditions.

To avoid accidents through the use of defensive driving, do the following:

  • Remain on the lookout for hazards. Think about what may happen as far ahead of you as possible, and never assume that road hazards will resolve themselves before you reach them.
  • Understand the defense. Review potentially hazardous situations in your mind after you see them. This will allow you to formulate a reaction that will prevent an accident.
  • Act quickly. Once you see a hazard and decide upon a defense, you must act immediately. The sooner you act, the more time you will have to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Defensive driving requires the knowledge and strict observance of all traffic rules and regulations applicable to the area you are driving in. It also means that you should be alert for illegal actions and driving errors made by others and be willing to make timely adjustments to your own driving to avoid an accident.

Keeping in mind the above tips will not only keep you safe on the job, but in your personal life as well.

Poor indoor air quality can cause chronic headaches, allergies, fatigue and irritation of the lungs, among other symptoms.

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CenterStage: Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distraction is Deadly: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

In 2015 alone, 3,477 people have died and another 391,000 have been injured due to distracted driving.

Not only is distracted driving hazardous to your life, but it can negatively impact the drivers’ lives that surround you. Distracted Driving Awareness Month is an effort by the National Safety Council to help recognize and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving. In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, this month’s CenterStage features Cathleen Christensen, Vice President of Property & Casualty at Hierl Insurance, who will provide safe driving practices and how companies can ensure their employees are using them.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is a public health issue that affects us all. According to the National Safety Council, distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, adjusting stereo, entertainment or navigation systems. You cannot drive safely unless your attention is fully focused on the road ahead of you, any activity that you partake in simultaneously provides a distraction and increases the risk of a crash.

Awareness for Awareness

Bringing awareness to distracted driving is essentially bringing awareness to awareness. There are three main types of distraction:

  1. Visual – taking your eyes off the road
  2. Cognitive – taking your mind off driving
  3. Manual – taking your hands off the wheel

These days, it’s so easy to be a distracted driver – from texting, to talking on the phone, or even using a navigation system. The biggest one, texting, is especially dangerous because it involves committing all three types of distraction. Some studies even say texting and driving is worse than driving under the influence. So, how can you keep your employees aware while driving?

“Several studies believe, as well as myself, that employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages
workers to text and drive.”

– Cathleen Christensen, VP of Property & Casualty at Hierl

But how can you really get your employees to commit to your ‘No Distracted Driving’ policy? It’s as easy as providing education and solutions. Sometimes, it’s especially effective to have your employees sign a contract stating if they need to use any form of a hand-held device, they must pull over to the side of the road. Remind your employees to drive with their devices off or on silent to keep the urge under control. Plus, several cellular devices have come out with ways to set phones to driving mode, leaving a custom voicemail to anyone who calls while an employee/employer is driving, letting the caller know they will call the caller back later.

Companies suffer from great financial loss yearly due to distracted driving. By putting these safe driving practices in place, you will save lives AND money. If you’d like to get more help on implementing a safe driving policy within your workplace, please contact Cathleen at 920.921.5921.


Financial shocks could disrupt tomorrow’s retirees

While today’s retirees, dependent as they are on Social Security and traditional pensions rather than 401(k)s, are better able to withstand financial shocks, tomorrow’s retirees won’t have it so easy.

They will be more in danger of being forced to downsize or spend down their assets to meet unexpected expenses such as a spike in medical bills or a loss of income through being widowed.

So says a brief from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which investigated the financial fragility of the elderly to see how well they might be able to deal with financial shocks.

The reason the elderly are seen as financially fragile, the brief says, stems from the fact that, “once retired, they have little ability to increase their income compared to working households.”

And with future retirees becoming ever more dependent on their own retirement savings, and receiving less of their retirement income from Social Security and defined benefit plans, those financial shocks will get harder and harder to deal with.

To see how that will play out, the study looked at the share of expenditures a typical elderly household devotes to basic needs. Next, it looked at how well today’s elderly can absorb those aforementioned major financial shocks. And finally, it examined the increased dependence of tomorrow’s elderly on financial assets, whether those assets are sufficient, and how well those assets do at absorbing shocks.

Nearly 80 percent of the spending of a typical elderly household, the report finds, is used to secure five “basic” needs: housing, health care, food, clothing, and transportation. In lower-income households or the homes of single individuals and in households that rent or have a mortgage, those basic needs make up even more of a household’s spending.

And while there are areas in which a household can cut back—such as entertainment, gifts or perhaps cable TV—as well as potential cutbacks on basic needs, typical retirees can’t cut by more than 20 percent “without experiencing hardship.” And among those lower-income and single households, as well as those with rent or mortgages to pay, the margin is even slimmer.

The need for medical care is so important to those who need it, says the report, that the question becomes whether medical expenditures crowd out spending on other basic items.

And while a widow is estimated by federal poverty thresholds to need 79 percent of the couple’s income to maintain her standard of living, other studies indicate that widows get substantially less than that from Social Security and a pension—estimates, depending on the study, range from 62 percent to 55 percent. And that likely does not leave a widow enough to meet basic expenses.

Among current retirees, only 10 percent report having to cut back on necessary food or medications because of lack of money over the past 2 years.

However, retirees tomorrow, if they have failed to save enough to see them through retirement, are likely to experience income declines of from 6 to 21 percent for GenXers—and that’s assuming that GenXers “annuitize most of their savings at an actuarially fair rate…” despite the fact that very few actually annuitize, and cannot get actuarially fair rates even if they do.

And since the brief also finds that the greater dependency of tomorrow’s retirees on whatever they’ve managed to save in 401(k)s means that they’re exposed to new sources of risk—“that households accumulate too little and draw out too little to cushion shocks and that their finances are increasingly exposed to market downturns”—that means that future retirees will be subjected to a reduced cushion between income and fixed expenses.

To compensate, they will need to downsize and cut their fixed expenses. Neither one bodes well for a comfortable retirement.

Read the article.

Source:
Satter M. (1 March 2018). "Financial shocks could disrupt tomorrow’s retirees" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitspro.com/2018/03/01/financial-shocks-could-disrupt-tomorrows-retirees/


Cyber Risks & Liabilities - January/February 2018

Troubling Lack of Cyber Concern by CFOs

Gone are the days when chief financial officers (CFOs) solely had to focus on managing their organization’s financial risks. These days, CFOs need to think about the costs of cyber security as well as the costs associated with not having enough of it. When their security tools are inadequate or threats go unnoticed, there is an increased risk of incidents that can costs thousands or millions of dollars in repairs, lost business and reputation. CFOs need to apply new strategies when it comes to tackling cyber risks.

Work With the Chief Information Security Officer

According to recent data, 39 percent of IT workers don’t believe their senior management understands the impact that a security breach could have on their company’s reputation. CFOs should become active members of their security teams, instead of passive observers, in an effort to protect their revenue with a more focused and effective cyber security plan. The most effective partnerships involve weekly cyber exposure reviews with management and IT.

Invest in IT

A recent report found that firms that invest more in IT security experience an average of 6.8 fewer breaches and save more than $5 million. With the growing number of available devices that employees can use to stay connected and do their jobs, new approaches are needed to deal with increased cyber exposure that may have been more easily contained in the past.

Be Accountable

CFOs need to realize how cyber risk affects financial risk. According to a recent study by Ponemon Institute, data breaches result in an average stock price decline of 5 percent and an average revenue decline of $3.4 million. CFOs cannot manage risks of that magnitude by themselves. It is in the best interest of the entire company if its CFO partners with others in the organization who have a vested interest in managing cyber risk.

The Biggest Cyber Security Disasters of 2017

Like 2016 before it, 2017 was not without its share of cyber security incidents—incidents that impacted companies of all sizes and affected multiple industries. The following are some of the biggest cyber security disasters of 2017:

  • WannaCry—Using a tool that was allegedly stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, cyber criminals exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows system in order to spread malware dubbed WannaCry. The attack, which took place May 12, 2017, has impacted over 200,000 users in at least 150 countries.
  • Equifax—In September of 2017, Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was the victim of a massive cyber attack. This attack compromised the personal information of over 143 million people.
  • Yahoo—In late 2016, Yahoo reported more than 1 billion user accounts were impacted by a 2013 breach. Later in 2017, it was revealed that over 3 billion Yahoo accounts were compromised.
  • Verizon—In July of 2017, it was reported that 14 million Verizon subscribers may have been affected by a data breach. The majority of those impacted by the breach were individuals who had previously contacted Verizon customer service.
  • Gmail—In May of 2017, it was revealed that Gmail users were targeted in a sophisticated phishing scam. The scam sought to gain access to accounts through a third-party app. Over 1 million users have been impacted.

Trump Administration Releases Rules on Disclosing Cyber Flaws

The Trump administration publicly released its rules on whitehouse.gov for deciding whether to disclose cyber security flaws or keep them secret. In doing so, the administration hopes to bring more transparency to its cyber processes.

The U.S. government initially created the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) under former President Barack Obama, to determine what to do with discovered flaws. The process was designed to balance law enforcement’s and U.S. intelligence officers’ desires to hack into devices with the intention to warn manufacturers of the need to patch holes in their security. However, the government has attracted criticism for jeopardizing internet security by stockpiling detected cyber vulnerabilities in order to preserve its ability to launch its own attacks on computer systems.

The new Trump administration charter explains how the VEP functions and names the agencies involved in the vulnerability reviews, including intelligence agencies as well as several civilian departments that include the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Energy and State.

The National Security Agency is the executive secretariat of the interagency group. Its job is to coordinate debates over flaws that the various agencies submit in case there is a disagreement about whether to disclose them. If the disagreements cannot be reconciled, the group will vote on whether to disclose or retain the flaws.

The new rules also require the creation of an annual report to provide metrics on the amount of flaws discovered, retained and disclosed. Portions of the report are to be made public. Decisions to retain vulnerabilities are to be reconsidered every year.

According to White House security coordinator Rob Joyce, the revised rules are intended to shed light on the process for how various federal agencies weigh the costs of keeping a flaw secret. Joyce said the rules are the most sophisticated in the world and that they set the United States apart from most other nations.

More than 90 percent of flaws are ultimately disclosed, according to Joyce, although critics argue that they’re not shared quickly enough.

 


Congress Moves Forward With Flood Insurance Renewal and Reforms

The House of Representatives recently passed the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, a collection of seven bills that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until 2022 and establish a number of reforms. Many of the proposed changes focus on increasing the program’s financial viability, as the NFIP exceeded its borrowing limit of $30 billion during this year’s hurricane season.

Here are some of the key additions included in the recently passed bill:

  • Improved technology to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) map flood zones and set insurance premiums
  • Limits on annual premium increases and surcharges
  • Financial tools to help FEMA and the NFIP plan for their long-term needs
  • An option for businesses to opt out of flood insurance requirements after one year
  • Incentives for private flood insurance providers

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the proposed reforms would lead to $187 million in savings between 2018 and 2027. However, critics of the bill believe that the changes could increase the price of flood insurance in low-income areas.

 

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Are You Prepared for a Home Break-in?

While it may be difficult to imagine it happening to you, home break-ins are a common occurrence. If an intruder enters your home, your property and the well-being of your loved ones are at risk.

In order to protect your home and family from an intruder, consider doing the following:

  • Put an emergency plan in place and discuss it with everyone in your household.
  • Take any measure possible to let the intruder know someone is home and aware of his or her presence.
  • Do not assume the intruder is unarmed. He or she may be concealing a knife or gun and could produce it at a moment’s notice.
  • If you have something immediately available you can use for defense, grab it, even if it is just a scare tactic.
  • Remain vigilant. Take note of the intruder’s physical characteristics and provide the most accurate description possible to the police if he or she gets away.

In addition to the above, consider arming your home with a security system. A security system may seem expensive, but knowing your family and possessions are safe at all times may make it worth the cost.

 

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Health Care Property & Casualty Profile - November / December 2017

In this November / December Health Care Profile, we will dive into digital innovation within hospitals, the financial benefit of easing doctor burnout, and how the federal government threaten three Massachusetts psychiatric hospitals. Read more below.


HOSPITALS WANT DIGITAL INNOVATION

A survey conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and health innovation company AVIA found that 85 percent of health care leaders realize that digital innovation is a key factor in the long-term success of their health care organizations.

Survey respondents included executives and innovation officers from 317 health systems in 48 states. When asked to define innovation, almost 75 percent of survey respondents said that it involves collaborating with innovative organizations, and 42 percent said that they believe innovation includes testing and scaling externally developed digital solutions.

Christina Jack, the AHA’s senior director of entrepreneur strategy and innovation, stated that digital innovation could be hampered by the fact that it is dependent upon the competencies of a chief information officer. And, as a result, it isn’t woven into an organization’s operations.

Nonetheless, the health care leaders who participated in the survey were hopeful about the future and stated that, if done correctly, digital innovations could improve the patient and workplace experience for both physicians and staff, as well as improve safety and decrease costs.

According to the survey, areas where hospitals have already invested in digital innovation include operational efficiencies, primary care delivery and utilization, patient access and care transitions.

FEDS THREATEN 3 PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS

The federal government threatened ceasing Medicare payments to three Massachusetts psychiatric hospitals after safety lapses caused two mentally ill patients to forgo critical medication. One patient had a seizure and suffered a traumatic head injury as a result.

 

According to a letter dated Sept. 8 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to the CEO of all three hospitals, conditions discovered on Aug. 28, 29 and 30 posed an immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of patients, limiting the hospitals’ capacity to render adequate care.

FINANCIAL BENEFIT OF EASING DOCTOR BURNOUT

According to a recent study published in JAMA’s Internal Medicine, addressing doctor burnout could save hospitals over $1 million per year.

The study looked at the cost of physician turnover as a whole and then used evidence to determine how many physicians leave their jobs because of burnout. It found that for an organization that employs 450 doctors, doctors who leave due to burnout cost the organization $2.5 million per year. If the same organization spent $1 million per year to lower the risk of burnout by 20 percent, it could save about $1.25 million each year.

Researchers said that the ways to decrease burnout involve understanding what causes it, such as a lack of work-life balance, heavy workloads, and a lack of flexibility and control.


5 Common Types of Construction Fraud to Avoid

Common Types of Construction Fraud

Fraud of all kinds is prevalent across every type of construction project. While cases of construction companies defrauding their clients are the most reported, it is the companies themselves that often lose money to fraud perpetrated by employees, contractors and partners.

To protect themselves, businesses should be aware of the following most common fraud schemes:

  1. Nonpayment of subcontractors and material suppliers done by delaying or falsifying lien waivers, or using project cash receipts to pay bills for other projects.
  2. Billing for unperformed work—often by exaggerating the units of production accomplished or the labour and equipment actually used.
  3. Subcontractor collusion, such as bid rigging and price fixing. It is important to prequalify and pre-approve contractors, provide the full scope of work to bid on, and then select the best-priced, most qualified and responsive subcontractor.
  4. Substituting or removing material, which can include doing things like installing low-grade materials that would require future repairs.
  5. Stealing tools or equipment from a worksite, often done by billing for equipment or tools for the job site that are then used for other subcontractor projects or personal use, or billing for unnecessary tools.

For further protection, it’s a good idea to implement a compliance and ethics program, set up an anonymous reporting system, properly define project scopes and ensure segregation of duties.

Prepare for OSHA’s First Injury Tracking Deadline

OSHA’s new Injury Tracking Application (ITA) was launched on Aug. 1, 2017, allowing establishments to start submitting their 2016 Form 300A. OSHA’s proposed compliance deadline is Dec. 1, 2017, leaving employers limited time to prepare.

The following establishments are subject to the rule and its subsequent reporting requirements:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees
  • Establishments with 20-249 employees that operate in identified high-risk industries

In order to meet the Dec. 1 deadline, employers should familiarize themselves with the ITA. Employers in states that operate OSHA-approved state plans should consult with their OSHA state-plan administrator for any additional electronic reporting instructions.


Cyber Risks & Liabilities - November 2017

We live in a world centralized around cyber activity – so shouldn’t employers protect themselves from cyber risks? The answer: yes. This article will help employers be aware of the damage a breach in cyber security can cause and help them seek the best cyber insurance.


5 Cyber Risk Questions Every Board Should Ask

When a data breach or other cyber event occurs, the damages can be significant, often resulting in lawsuits, fines and serious financial losses. In order for organizations to truly protect themselves from cyber risks, corporate boards must play an active role. Not only does involvement from leadership improve cyber security, it can also reduce liability for board members.

To help oversee their organization’s cyber risk management, boards should ask the following questions:

  1. Does the organization utilize technology to prevent data breaches? Boards should ensure that the management team reviews company technology at least annually, ensuring that cyber security tools are current and effective.
  2. Does the organization have a comprehensive cyber security program that includes specific policies and procedures? Boards should ensure that cyber security programs align with industry standards and are audited on a regular basis to ensure effectiveness and internal compliance.
  3. Has the management team provided adequate employee training to ensure sensitive data is handled correctly? Boards can help oversee the process of making training programs that foster cyber awareness.
  4. Has management taken appropriate steps to reduce cyber risks when working with third parties? Boards should work with the company’s management team to create a third-party agreement that identifies how the vendor will protect sensitive data, whether the vendor will subcontract services and how it will inform the organization of compromised data.
  5. Has the organization conducted a thorough risk assessment and considered purchasing cyber liability insurance? Boards, alongside the company’s management team, should conduct a cyber risk assessment and identify potential gaps. From there, organizations can work with their insurance broker to customize a policy that meets their specific needs.

Key Considerations When Buying Cyber Insurance

Buying cyber insurance is not a one-size-fits-all process. To ensure your business has sufficient cyber coverage, it is critical to assess your needs and consider your specific risks. The following are some common elements of cyber insurance policies to consider when building optimal coverage for your business:

  • Limits and sublimits—Hierl Insurance Inc. can assist you in determining appropriate limits by utilizing industry benchmarking data and projected breach costs. From there, we can examine your sublimits, which don’t provide extra coverage, but set a maximum to cover a specific loss.
  • Retroactive coverage—Breaches can go undiscovered for years. For protection from unidentified cyber incidents, ask for a retroactive date that is earlier than the policy’s inception date.
  • Exclusions—Common cyber policy exclusions, such as outdated software, unencrypted mobile devices and penalties from credit issuers, can adversely impact coverage. Understand your policy exclusions before committing.
  • Panel provisions—Many insurance companies require policyholders to use preapproved investigators, consultants and legal professionals in the event of a cyber breach. If you have a preferred team of experts, make sure your preferred policy allows you to work with them before signing.
  • Consent provisions—Some cyber policies contain consent provisions that require obtaining the insurer’s consent before incurring certain expenses related to cyber claims. If prior consent provisions are included in the policy and cannot be removed, policyholders can change them to ensure that the carrier’s consent cannot be unreasonably withheld.
  • Vendor acts and omissions—Most organizations use third-party vendors to process or store a portion of their data. While they make it easier to do business, they also represent a potential exposure. It is critical that your business’s cyber liability policy covers claims that result from breaches caused by your vendors.

Cyber insurance is continually evolving alongside emerging cyber threats. Contact Hierl Insurance Inc. to help proactively assess your risks and ensure that your insurance coverage is in line with your specific business practices and exposures.

 

 

 

 

Yahoo Says All Accounts Were Hacked in 2013

Yahoo recently announced that, in contrast to an earlier estimate, all 3 billion of its accounts were hacked in 2013. The news could not only increase the legal exposure for Yahoo’s new owner Verizon Wireless, but also increase the number of class-action lawsuits expected in U.S. federal and state courts.

Recently obtained information shows that the stolen information did not include passwords in clear text, bank account information or card data. However, this information was protected with outdated encryption that experts said is easy to crack. It also included backup email addresses and security questions that could make it easier to break into other user accounts.

In late 2016, Yahoo made users change their passwords if they hadn’t since the hack, and invalidated old security questions and answers.

Equifax Cyber Security Incident

Equifax Inc. announced in September that about 143 million U.S. consumers may have been affected by one of the largest breaches in history.

Names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and driver’s license numbers were accessed by the intruders, according to a statement from Equifax. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers were also accessed.

GDPR Compliance Deadline Approaching

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of European Union (EU) citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. Noncompliance could be costly for businesses—amounting to up to €20 million or 4 percent of global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

Companies that do business with customers in the EU must be able to show compliance by May 25, 2018. For more information on whether the GDPR affects your business, and how to comply, visit the website of the European Commission here.


Risk Insights: Donating to Disasters and Avoiding Scams

Hurricane Harvey is the strongest storm to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charley in 2004. News of the damage it has caused to southeastern Texas is prompting people to help in whatever ways they can. Unfortunately, there are dishonest people who prey upon people’s good intentions, creating fake charity campaigns to exploit victims and take advantage of those who want to help.

How to Avoid Scams

Despite the sense of urgency to help when disaster strikes, it is important to do some research before donating. Consider the following best practices to ensure that your resources go to a legitimate charity with experience in disaster relief:

  • Never wire money to someone who claims to be a charity. Legitimate charities do not ask for wire transfers. Once you wire the money, you’ll probably never get it back.
  • Be cautious about bloggers and social media posts that provide charity suggestions. Don’t assume that the person recommending the charity has fully researched the organization’s credibility.
  • Only donate through a charity’s official website, never through emails. Scammers have a knack for creating fake email accounts that seem legitimate.
  • Ensure that the charity explains on its website how your money will be used.

  • Be wary of charities that claim to give 100 percent of donations to victims. That is often a false claim, as well-structured organizations need to use some of their donations to cover administrative costs.
  • Never offer unnecessary personal information, such as your Social Security number or a copy of your driver’s license. However, it is common for legitimate charities to ask for your mailing address, and it is safe for you to provide it.

Despite the sense of urgency to help when disaster strikes, it is important to do some research before donating money. Don’t let dishonest people take advantage of your good intentions.

How to Choose a Charity

Even legitimate charities need to be considered with care. The Federal Trade Commission suggests avoiding new charities because, despite their legitimacy, they may not have the resources needed to get your money to its intended recipients.

Donors looking for a worthy charity can access an unbiased, objective list on a website called Charity Navigator. The site receives a Form 990 for all of its charities directly from the IRS, so it knows exactly how

the charities spend their money and use their donations. It also rates charities based on their location, tax status, length of operation, accountability, transparency and public support.

Gaining popularity for charitable donations is a crowdfunding website called GoFundMe, which allows people to raise money for a wide variety of circumstances. Despite its popularity, visitors to the site should be cautious about the campaigns to which they donate. Visitors can report suspicious campaigns directly to GoFundMe via its official website or to their state’s consumer protection hotline.

National Organizations

The following national organizations have long-standing reputations for providing disaster relief and accepting donations:

  • The American Red Cross provides shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to people affected by disasters.
  • AmeriCares takes medicine and supplies to survivors.
  • Catholic Charities USA supports disaster response and recovery efforts that include direct assistance, rebuilding and health care services.
  • The Salvation Army provides shelter and emergency services to displaced individuals.

Remember that there are other ways to provide disaster relief that don’t involve monetary donations, especially if you live near the affected area. Local food banks and blood centers commonly ask for donations during relief efforts.

 

Sourced from – Zywave.com