Hurricane Donation Scams
With the catastrophic impact that Hurricane Michael has left on the Florida Panhandle, please be aware of donation and charity scams. Fraudsters have been known to take advantage of tragic events to steal innocent people’s money. They create sham charities and request donations from those who want to help. The Federal Trade Commission has received many reports of this happening with the recent Hurricane Florence. The same is to be expected with Hurricane Michael. Avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud by following these important tips:
- Be very cautious about opening any emails, attachments, text messages or links soliciting disaster relief contributions or that report “breaking news” related to these (and other) disaster or national news events.
- Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media or anywhere you see are legitimate. Research the organization yourself. Even if a family member or your best friend has shared a message or link, don’t believe it to be real until you check it out.
- Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If they should be registered, but they’re not, consider donating to another charity.
- When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate.
- If you know the charity is legitimate and you are ready to donate, specify the disaster in your donation so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund that the charity could use for any of its work.
- If you think you’ve donated to a sham charity, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaints help the agency stop scammers.