Avoid Being Scammed After a Natural Disaster
Thousands of people are affected by some sort of natural disaster every single day. Unfortunately there are just as many people out there who are looking for every opportunity to scam these very vulnerable victims and the people who want to help them. In light of all the recent disasters we wanted to give our customers a few timely tips on how to avoid being scammed by these very unscrupulous people trying to defraud disaster victims during a very low point in life.
Verify, Verify, Verify
Always verify the organization requesting your donation for relief efforts or charities is legitimate and actually exist before giving them your money. Look them up on the internet and call them first. If you have printed material from someone claiming to be from a charity, please confirm the information you found matches what they provided. Check mailing addresses and verify methods used to accept donations. Charity Navigator and Charity Watch are great websites you can use to research and find charities you can trust
Switch and Baits
Scammers often will use a variation or look alike name of a very established charity or national organization to trick you out of your hard earned money. If you are contacted by a charity always check for any misspelling in their name, email and website address or in any content they provide. This may seem like a minor detail but today many people are being targeted by scammers around the world who speak English as a second language.
Checking for grammatical errors is a good way to spot a fake. A good tip is to google the name of the organization to see if you can find any information on them on the internet. Legitimate non-profit organizations will have a web address ending with .org instead of .com.
Any requests you receive to donate to any type of charity should be viewed with a high level of suspicion. Request by emails can contain malware that will infect your computer. Never click on links and images from an unsolicited source if you don’t want your computer with possible personal information to be hijacked by a scammer. Requests for donations by mail, phone or from door to door solicitors from any organization should be scrutinized as well.
Do your homework first and check them out. If you are contacted by a door to door solicitor, request that they leave printed material on their organization so you can follow up with them later. This will give you time to verify and check that it is a legitimate charity. Also beware of any contractors who contact you to have repairs done. These type of scammers charge high prices for bad work that will often never get done costing you thousands of dollars. Again, do your research and vet any contractors you are considering hiring to help you rebuild. After a disaster the pressure to rebuild sooner is hard to resist but taking your time and checking references and licenses can save years of heartache.
Beware of anyone approaching you posing as a representative from any type of insurance or government agency like FEMA. These crooks are looking to steal personal information like your social security number, date of birth, address, and any other possible personal information that can be used to open credit in your name.
They may appear to be official but that is what they want you to think. These scammers will offer to sell you fake insurance or get you to apply for a fake government grant in their efforts to separate you from your money and steal your identity. Request to see an official ID and never ever give anyone personal information without being absolutely certain they are from the company or agency they claim to represent.
Cash and Credit Card
Never ever give cash or provide a credit card number to someone contacting you at home or even by phone. Don’t be fooled by Caller ID. Scammers today use sophisticated equipment that allows them to change the name and phone number they are calling from so they can appear to be legitimate. If you are suspicious of the caller, let them know you are busy and request that they leave their call back information so you can follow up at a time more convenient to you.
Remember someone from a real charity will be more willing to provide call back details verses a scammer who will try to pressure you into donating while they are talking to you. If that happens avoid continuing the conversation and either close your door or hang up the call immediately.
To sum it all up, avoid giving any money to any organization or person that you are not completely familiar with. Be wary of unsolicited emails or anyone contacting you at home or by phone to raise funds. Don’t be pressured and rushed into donating to the many fake organizations run by thieves working hard to steal your money. Instead take the time to do the research and background checks or just stick with donating only to national non-profit organizations that you're most familiar with.
The content contained in this blog post reflects the personal views and opinions of the author and was solely provided for informational purposes only. KinderSuite or any employee thereof is not responsible for any inaccuracies of statements made therein and will not be held liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Any opinions expressed by readers leaving comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinion and/or views of KinderSuite and it's staff.
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