Officials offer advice to avoid storm-related scams

November 6, 2012

By Staff

Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud urged potential donors to avoid fraud related to disaster relief scams.

The federal government established the National Center for Disaster Fraud in 2005 to investigate, prosecute and deter fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs following hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited, or spam, emails, including by clicking links contained in the messages.
  • Be cautious of people representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as reputable charities.
  • Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible, and instead pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

Call the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline 866-720-5721, or email the agency at disaster@leo.gov. Report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

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