Natural disasters are unfortunately out of our control. However, something that we can control is how we help the victims of those disasters. This could mean donating money, food, clothes or other essential supplies that will help provide relief to disaster victims. Sadly enough, situations like Superstorm Sandy also open up the door to a wave of fraudsters hoping to cash in on your kindness and philanthropy.
Charity con artists are among the lowest ranks of fraudsters. Not only are they preying on you good will, but they’re keeping necessary funds from reaching people in need. Based on our research, here are some tips to help you feel more confident when you make donations. These tips will help you make sure that your money, time and effort are going to real organizations.
Tip #1: Make Sure You Are Donating To A Legitimate Charity Or Organization
Contact your state’s Attorney General’s Office or the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) to check whether or not a charity is officially registered. This will give you a better idea if your money or supplies are going to the right place. Websites like guidestar.org and charitynavigator.org are also great resources you can use to research legitimate charities.
Tip #2: Don’t Believe Emails From Supposed Victims
Emails are one of the primary tools that fraudsters use to fool unsuspecting people. Their tactics don’t change when disasters such as Superstorm Sandy happen. Be extremely careful with any emails you receive or videos you see online from someone claiming to be a victim. Never send personal or financial information, or wire money, to someone who has emailed you out of the blue.
Tip #3: Don’t Give In To Pressure To Donate
A legitimate charity will not pressure or rush you into donating immediately. If you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to say no. Also, you should never give any personal information such as your social security number or banking information over the phone. Any real charity will gladly accept donations by check.
Tip #4: Be Careful And Do Your Research
If you’ve never heard of a charity, you should always do as much research as you can to learn more about the organization. It’s even okay to ask the charity how much of your donation will actually go towards providing relief for victims.
Tip #5: Keep An Eye Out For Unusual Charges On Your Phone Bill
Sending a donation through a text message is actually a common form of payment used by real charities and you should expect to see the amount charged to your phone bill. However, if you see additional unexpected charges, you may be a victim of fraud and should contact your phone service provider immediately.
Tip #6: Don’t Believe Them If You Don’t Remember Donating
Fraudsters will often try to trick you by contacting you and thanking you for your past donation, hoping that you will trust their solicitation more. If you don’t remember ever pledging money to their supposed organization, this should be a big warning sign to hang up or not respond.
Tip #7: Don’t Let Imposters Fool You
Fake charities commonly use logos or names similar to more widely known and established charity organizations. If anyone claims to be associated with a more well-known charity and tries to get you to donate, be sure to call the official organization and confirm things.
Tip #8: Don’t Give Your Money To Pick Up Services Or Use Cash
If a supposed charity says they will accept your payment by sending a courier or pick up service, this is a sign of fraud and you should not donate. Also, if they say they will take cash donations, this is also a big warning sign.
Scambook Wants To Help
Here at Scambook, we are deeply saddened and concerned for all the victims of Superstorm Sandy. We cannot stand by without doing anything to help, which is why we are pledging to match up to $10,000 in donations for any Scambook users who want to help!
Scambook wants to join the Sandy relief effort and is currently in contact with the New Jersey Board of Education to find a devastated elementary school in need of help. For any Scambook users who are receiving a refund from the business they submitted a complaint against, you will have the option of donating your refund to our Sandy relief effort. Scambook has set aside $10,000 and will match your donations dollar for dollar up to that amount. Scambook never takes a percentage of your refund and 100% of your donation will go to the school we select.
We truly value education, especially when it comes to children whose minds have so much potential to make a great impact on the world. Please join us in helping young students affected by Superstorm Sandy get back to school! All the way from our LA offices and across the nation, Scambook stands behind the east coast victims affected by Superstorm Sandy.
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