The need for financial assistance can occur at any time. With 57% of Americans with less than $1,000 in savings, a medical emergency, a natural disaster, sudden job loss, or other upheaval can mean a family having to choose between paying for medicine or paying rent – or not having the means to cover either.
Luckily, there are many organizations who can help. Unfortunately, not all organizations who purport to help people are honest. However, there are precautions you can take to make sure the organizations you are dealing with are trustworthy.
- Protect your personal information.
It is acceptable for an organization to ask for:
- Your name, address, telephone number and email
- Number of people in your household
- Monthly income (including deposit statements or paycheck stubs)
- Type of medical insurance (public and/or private)
- Reason(s) for needing assistance.
It is NOT acceptable to ask for:
- Social security number
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Verify their legitimacy
Organizations that provide financial assistance should be reputable and have a track record of providing the service they are offering. Be sure you verify the legitimacy of the organization before applying for assistance – this can help you avoid getting into further financial trouble. If you haven’t heard of them, ask around. Does your chapter of HTC recommend them? Do you know another family who has successfully received assistance from them?
- Standards are good.
There may be eligibility requirements. These are to protect the nonprofit from fraud and are often required by the nonprofit’s policies. Some requirements may include:
- Proof of in-state residence
- Proof of treatment by in-state doctor or HTC
- Look for a privacy statement
The organization should have a privacy statement prominently shown on their website that explains how they use your information and how it is protected. This should also be provided within the documents you sign to obtain financial assistance. Some organizations will hire outside companies to process financial assistance applications. These companies should also offer privacy statements as well as guaranteed secure processing.
- You should not have to pay a fee or sign a contract
No organization should ask you to cover a processing fee to receive aid.
- You may not receive the money directly
Some assistance programs have limits as to what they can fund, such as rent, utilities, gas money for hospital/HTC visits, etc. Further, to prevent fraud, many organization will not pay the person requesting the assistance directly, but rather give payment to the vendor (ie, landlord, electric company) or provide the funds in a way that limits their use (ie, gas cards.) NEVER provide your bank account number so a nonprofit can deposit funds directly into your bank account.
- Assistance vs. kickback
A kickback is when a company offers you a monetary incentive for using their product or service. This is illegal –for the company to offer, and for the person to accept. If someone offers to pay your rent, your cable bill, buy you a new phone, or your kids’ school uniforms for switching to their product or service, both the company – and you—can be held criminally liable. You should not be required to sign a contract or enroll in a program to receive assistance. If you are offered money or goods in exchange for using a product or service, do not accept this offer and notify your local chapter or HTC immediately.
There are many safe options for financial assistance. See below for a list of trustworthy sources that can help you in a time of need. If you are unsure, you can always contact HANDI, NHF’s Information Resource Center, your chapter, or Hemophilia Federation of America for help navigating assistance options.
Safe options for financial assistance