When a disaster strikes, consumers and businesses are typically ready to open their hearts and wallets to offer donations to help the victims, but not every organization soliciting money is on the up-and-up. Such is the case in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, as government agencies have begun warning people to look out for Harvey scams.
Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission published an alert reminding consumers to be wary of a potential surge in charity scams as residents in the storm's path are suffering, according to a report published by KrebsOnSecurity.
“It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes and businesses to the ongoing flooding in Texas. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity, the FTC wrote. “If you’re looking for a way to give, the FTC urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams. Do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.”
Consumers shouldn’t assume that a charity donation request posted on social media is legitimate, the FTC said, and the agency asks potential donors to perform their due diligence by researching any organization that’s requesting donations. Sites like GuideStar, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch, among others, can help donors research these giving sites. In addition, anyone donating via text message should double-check the phone number to ensure the text is going to the correct recipient, says KrebsOnSecurity.
Scammers are also using other methods besides potentially creating fake donation websites to benefit from the generosity of consumers. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team has reminded potential donors that companies that create malware are known for capitalizing on natural disasters and other high-profile events to entice people into clicking links or opening email attachments that lead to malware, viruses or other issues, KrebsOnSecurity adds.