Beware Of These Scams And Fake Charities Connected To Hurricane Harvey
It takes a special type of lowlife to take advantage of people affected by a natural disaster.
But unfortunately, they do exist—and whether you're a victim of Hurricane Harvey or someone who wants to help out the relief efforts, you have to be aware of scams and fake charities.
One scam currently going viral in the aftermath of Harvey is popping up on numerous social media sites. The post reads:
The National Guard is being deployed to our Texas area. If you find yourself in a state of emergency. Call 1-800-527-3907. Please copy, paste or share!!!!!!!!!
The problem with that number is that it doesn't connect the caller with the National Guard—but instead, an insurance group. Last year during the flooding in Baton Rouge and Lafayette authorities got over 1,200 complaints related to fraud.
Our friends at Consumerist posted a list of tips to avoid scams and fake charities and it is definitely helpful to get you through the clutter of posts that you will be inundated with over the next few weeks in the wake of Harvey's destruction.
Ask About Who Wants Your Money
If you get a phone call ask if the caller is being paid to raise funds. Ask them who they work for. Ask what percentage of each dollar will be going to the cause. Don't hesitate to go in a different direction with your donation if things seem sketchy. Another way to find out about charities asking for your money is by checking their status with The National Association of State Charity Officials here.
Be Aware Of Overnight Charities
It is very common for "new" charities to pop up after natural disasters. Although new charities don't necessarily equate to fraud, chances are they don't have the proper infrastructure to efficiently get your dollar to the people or the areas that are affected. Resist any pressure or sympathy donations to donate to these overnight charities.
Question The Cash
Charities that are "cash only" may not be legitimate, being that there is literally no paper trail to track your donation to the cause or the bottom line—especially if they offer to come and pick it up from you. Bottom line is this: Cash can easily go "missing" or be "stolen." Paying by credit card is the safest bet when it comes to security and tax purposes.
It's All In The Name
You have to keep your ears open for new charities using names that are very similar to established charities. We know a lot of people have the best intentions, but there are also people out there who are very clever and are looking to swindle generous folks at every turn. If you are ever in doubt, just call the organization you know to make sure everything checks out.
See even more ways to avoid being scammed by fake charities here and be on high alert with your generosity.