Gov. Cuomo encourages NYers to support Nepal earthquake relief efforts

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Governor Andrew Cuomo is encouraging New Yorkers to consider providing support to organizations assisting in relief efforts after the earthquake in Nepal.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families affected by the devastating Nepal earthquake,” Cuomo said. “As New Yorkers, we help our neighbors in their time of need, whether they are across the street, or across the globe. I urge those wishing to help to support the important work of legitimate charities responding to this disaster and be vigilant against opportunists who seek to capitalize on this tragedy.”

New York State is home to the largest Nepalese populations in America, according to Cuomo’s office.

The following New York-affiliated charities are assisting in relief efforts:

· American Jewish World Service – donate here.
· American Nepal Medical Foundation – donate here.
· AmeriCares – donate here.
· CARE – donate here.
· Catholic Relief Services – donate here.
· Direct Relief – donate here.
· GlobalGiving – donate here.
· Himalyan Heath Care – donate here.
· International Relief Teams – donate here.
· Joint Distribution Committee – donate here.
· Operation USA – donate here.
· Save the Children – donate here.
· Seva Foundation – donate here.
· United States Fund for UNICEF – donate here.
· World Help – donate here.

Cuomo urges consumers to be vigilant when donating money as schemers posing as charitable organizations take advantage of those willing to help in the aftermath of major disasters.

The governor’s office provided recommended precautions from the Division of Consumer Protection:

· Research the charity. Verify that the organization is registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Find out the charity’s mission, program and finances, as well as its experience and track record of success dealing with certain types of disasters in specific regions by searching the New York State Attorney General’s online database of registered charities at www.oag.state.ny.us, and by visiting websites such as www.bbb.org, www.give.org, www.charitynavigator.org and www.guidestar.org in addition to visiting the charity’s website.

· Designate your donation. Find out what percentage of your donation will directly go toward the cause as opposed to administrative costs. Ask the charity whether you can designate your donation to a specific effort rather than a general contribution fund.

· Resist high-pressure tactics. Watch out for direct e-mails from “victims” and solicitors who employ heart-wrenching stories, insisting that you donate immediately. It is strongly advised not to give money over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers, and instead ask the caller to send written materials about the charity.

· Do not disclose personal or financial information. Never give your Social Security number, credit card or debit card number or other personal identifying information in response to an unsolicited charitable request.

· Avoid giving cash. Give your contribution by check or credit card to ensure that you have a record of the donation. Make checks out to the charity, not to an individual. If you choose to make a donation via a charity’s website, check that the website is secure and that your computer is equipped with the latest anti-virus protection. Do not send contributions with a “runner,” by wire or overnight parcel pick-up.

· Don’t assume. Check an organization’s tax status at http://www.irs.gov/app/eos to find out if the donation is tax deductible.

For information regarding a specific organization’s status, registration filings and complaints, contact the New York State Department of State Division of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583.

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