Secretary Hargett Warns Tennesseans to be Wary of Tornado Relief Scams

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Press Release

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  Secretary of State Tre Hargett cautions Tennesseans to be wary of scams when making charitable donations to tornado relief efforts in southeast Tennessee and across the state.

“Even during these difficult times, Tennesseans are once again supporting each other once through tragedy,” said Secretary 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 in this Wise Giving Tips video 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 or by calling 615-741-2555.
  • 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 is tax deductible.
  • Pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization, as there are many with similar names.
  • Don't forget there are many ways to give, such as volunteering your time.
  • If a paid fundraiser asks you for a donation, ask how much is kept by the fundraiser and how much goes to the nonprofit.

“We continue to pray for the Tennesseans who lost their lives and property in these deadly tornados and thank all those who are working to provide assistance,” said Secretary 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, or call the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming 615-741-2555.

As Tennessee’s charity officials, please report any false, misleading or deceptive fundraising activity to the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at 615-741-2555.