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Tragedies and scammers go hand in hand. Covid-19, the flooding in western middle Tennessee, and Hurricane Ida have all contributed to an influx of scammer’s websites looking for “donations” to be given to the affected. The problem is, very little or none of the proceeds end up going to those in need.

To be protected, look for the red flags.

For Disaster Relief Charity Scams

Give only to trusted charities. According to the FCC, If you have doubts, you can check with Charity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.

You can also check with the National Association of State Charity Officials to see whether charities must be registered in your state and if the charity contacting you is on file with your state.

If you receive unsolicited calls from a charity, verify the phone number, then if you want to donate, call back.

Don’t open suspicious emails…just don’t. Scammers are getting much better at using emails to trick you into giving them your personal information, such as social security number and bank account information. These are called phishing emails and are becoming more of a problem for everyone. They look much more legitimate now, and it’s easy to fall prey to these tactics.

Best practice for emails…if you get an email you are not sure of, for example from your bank or charge card company asking you to take some sort of action, do not click on the link in the email. Close your email, then go to your bank or charge card company website. Login to your account and check inside the actual account to see if there is something that requires your attention.

Crowd sourcing websites, such as GoFundMe, Wefunder and others, are good ideas for raising money. Unfortunately scammers think so too. If you want to donate through these options, verify the source through at least a Google search. See how long the website has been around, validate the site through the Google Safe Browser Transparency Report. Check the Contact Page to see if any of the contact information seems out of place. Check other social sites for references such as LinkedIn, Facebook and make sure the information is the same. Poor grammar and misspellings are more red flags that the site is not legitimate.

Checking these sources is good practice for any potential scam. Remember, a fool and their money is soon parted. Don’t be the fool.

All the best and stay well,
Jim Nay

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