As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas in the next few days, beware of scammers trying to take advantage of the good hearts of those of us who want to help the victims.
We have seen it before, and no doubt it will happen again in the next few weeks as the devastation of the hurricane becomes known. Fraudsters use natural disasters to prey on the good intentions of individuals who want to contribute to those left behind by disasters, including hurricanes. As Hurricane Florence is reported to be one of the worst hurricanes to land in the Carolinas in decades, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued guidance on wise giving after a hurricane that outlines the risks of hurricane relief charity fraud.
According to the guidance, “the best way to avoid this and other kinds of charity fraud is to go online and do your research to make sure your money goes to a reputable organization.”
To verify a charity for hurricane relief, there are several organizations that have vetted organizations that you can check before you send your check or donate online:
Many of the scammers send out authentic looking materials that impersonate real charities, but may have a missing letter in the name or closely resemble the reputable organization. If you want to donate to a well-known, reputable charitable organization, go directly to its website instead of clicking on a link in the materials sent via email, or send a check directly to its headquarters or local office.
If you are donating to a charity that is not well known, search the charity online and see if people have said it is a scam or have negative reviews.
Many scammers will call you to try to get you to donate over the telephone, or thank you for a previous donation and ask you to donate again. Be very skeptical of these callers and report any scams to the FTC.
The victims of Hurricane Florence will need our support, but don’t get scammed because of your generosity.