FTC Warns: Watch Out for Scams When Donating to Hurricane Victims

By Jorge Santiago

Late last month, the historic Hurricane Harvey hit the coastal regions of Texas and Louisiana with record-setting rainfalls, leveling entire communities in its path. The aftermath is hard to believe: billions of dollars of property damage and thousands of lives changed forever.

But in these trying times, the good will of the American people is always on full display. You may recall seeing the images of neighbors pulling neighbors out of treacherous flood waters, or first responders helping victims make their way to shelters. And of course, support is coming in from around the country in the form of donations too.

However, con artists often take advantage of disasters like Harvey to try and make a quick buck for themselves. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy several years ago, con artists duped unsuspecting donors out of more than $20 million, depriving the storm’s victims of vital supplies.

In order to help good Samaritans avoid the same pitfall in the aftermath of Harvey, the FTC has released a set of tips to help make sure your good will ends up being put to good use. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid being victimized yourself:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record with dealing with disasters.
  • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events.
  • Designate the disaster so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate—research the organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before making your donation.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.

If you’re not sure whether or not the group you’re donating to is a legitimate organization, you can follow up through the Better Business Bureau by clicking here.

As a community bank, we at The Milford Bank firmly believe in the importance of lifting up our neighbors in times of need. And in the face of emergencies, the last thing we need are con artists taking advantage of the moment. But don’t be discouraged from lending a hand yourself—by taking the time to follow these tips and do a little research yourself, you’ll be able to help families start their lives all over again.

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