Hurricane Dorian maybe long gone, but its effects are still being felt in the Caribbean Islands and along the eastern United States.
But the effects of Hurricane Dorian are also being felt here in the Central California area, by way of scammers asking for money.
But before you give anything, make sure your cash is being put to good use.
Clayton Alexander, with the Central California Better Business Bureau says, “A recent public survey we distributed earlier this year shows that only 24% of individuals say charity disaster relief appeals are very clear. So, we also encourage charities to make sure their relief solicitations explains the nature of their disaster assistance activities.”
The issue has become so bad, Attorney Generals from a variety of states across the country are warning people about fake relief solicitations.
“Committing fraud against natural disaster victims is an inexcusable crime,” said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen. “It is important for people to be on the lookout for fraudsters who seek to profit from natural disasters through identity theft schemes and solicitations for fake charities. The Department of Justice is committed to detecting this type of fraud, and we will aggressively prosecute the offenders. Through our National Center for Disaster Fraud, and in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we are working to keep Americans from becoming victims of these schemes.”
So what can you do to protect yourself?
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
- Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
- Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
- Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because those files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
- Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Most of all, do your research! Reports on nationally-soliciting charities are produced by the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org website.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, results reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy and other issues.