Florida CFO warns of Ian charity scams

Receding floodwaters surround homes near downtown, one day after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Friday warned people and businesses to beware of charity scams related to Hurricane Ian.

If you’re looking to contribute to Ian relief efforts, Patronis warns, be cautious of imposter GoFundMe-style crowdfunding websites and charity scams.

He encourages Floridians to donate to the Florida Disaster Fund. First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Thursday that within hours of activation, the Florida Disaster Fund received over $10 million in donations to support communities impacted by Hurricane Ian. To contribute, visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.

Here are some tips to avoid charity scams from the Federal Trade Commission:

  • Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. That’s something scammers do.
  • Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.
  • Scammers can change caller ID to make a call look like it’s from a local area code.
  • If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it. That’s how scammers ask you to pay.
  • To be safer, pay by credit card or check.
  • It’s a good practice to keep a record of all donations. And review your statements closely to make sure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate — and that you’re not signed up to make a recurring donation.
  • Before clicking on a link to donate online, make sure you know who is receiving your donation. Read Donating Through Crowdfunding, Social Media, and Fundraising Platforms for more information.