Scam artists get very creative when trying to get your money. They use websites, emails, phone calls, text messages and all sorts of fake accounts to take advantage of people. Disasters are particularly attractive to criminals.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey has caused much devastation and suffering. Many of us want to make a contribution to help the victims that have lost family members and their homes. Law enforcement and consumer groups strongly encourage you to investigate the charity before you make a donation.
After Hurricane Katrina, the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) shut down more than 4600 websites that were suspected of fraud. Some of the websites had already collected over $40,000 before they were shut down.
The safest recommendation is to donate to national organizations. Investigate all charities before you make a donation. Never donate cash or write a check to an individual. Watch out for solicitations on Facebook and Twitter. The Federal Trade Commission has suggested the following list of websites you can use to investigate the charity’s history; Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and GuideStar.
If you suspect you are being scammed, you can report it to National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at (866) 720-5721.