JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With donations coming in for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, scam artists are working to take money from individuals willing to help.
This is not the first time that something like this has occurred. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina occurred, the FBI said that about 4,600 websites advertising relief efforts popped up. Most of these websites turned out to be fake.
To avoid a Hurricane Harvey scam, you should steer clear of suspicious websites and be aware of unsolicited emails and phone calls. Emails showing photos of disaster areas should not be opened, as they may be viruses that hackers can use to steal your information.
Donators should stick to donating to charities with solid reputations, and if you are thinking of donating to a lesser known charity or organization, do your homework. There are many good watchdog groups that you can ask to check out the charity. The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and GuideStar are a few organizations that will help you avoid scams.
The Justice Department suggests avoiding cash donations. Paying by credit card or writing a check directly to the charity are good ways to avoid a scam. Do not cut checks directly to people.
If you believe you have been targeted by a scammer, it needs to be reported. You can report scams by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline (866-720-5721), calling the Texas Attorney General’s hotline (800-621-0508) or alerting the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.