Whether you’re a victim of Hurricane Sandy seeking relief or someone who wants to help out, don’t become a victim of fraud.
Our experts and those at the Federal Trade Commission note that scammers target disaster-affected areas trying to defraud those seeking help or wanting to donate. Protect yourself from financial harm or identity theft by following the tips below.
Before you donate:
• Give to only charities you know and trust, such as the American Red Cross.
• Check a charity before you donate. See the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
• Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight.
• Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser, who they works for, and what percent of your donation goes to the charity vs. the fundraiser.
• Don’t give out personal or financial information unless you know the charity is reputable.
• Never send cash. You can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
If you need to hire a contractor, be sure to:
• Ask for copies of the contractor’s general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
• Check the contractor’s identification and references.
• Avoid paying more than the minimum in advance.
• Deal with reputable people in your community.
• Call local law enforcement and the Better Business Bureau if you suspect a con.
• For more information, check out Consumer Reports’ post-Sandy coverage.
FTC Warns Consumers: Charity and Home Repair Scams May Appear After a Disaster