Seeing the victims in Kentucky following the devastating floods is heartbreaking. Even more distressing is seeing those who are trying to help by donating funds to the relief effort victimized as well.
Scammers know that people with good hearts who are trying to help others are susceptible to relief scams. All they are trying to do is to help others, but they become victims themselves of fake websites and relief scams.
If you are trying to contribute to a relief effort, take the time to make sure your funds are going to a legitimate organization. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided tips on how to help others without getting scammed, including:
- Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and repairs. Some may quote outrageous prices, demand payment up front, or lack the skills needed.
- Check them out. Before you pay, ask for IDs, licenses, and proof of insurance. Don’t believe any promises that aren’t in writing.
- Never pay by wire transfer, gift card, cryptocurrency, or in cash. Scammers ask for these types of payments because, once they’ve collected the money, it’s almost impossible for you to get it back. And never make the final payment until the work is done and you’re satisfied.
- Guard your personal information. Only scammers will say they’re a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number.
- Know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) doesn’t charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.
- Look out for rental listing scams. Steer clear of people who tell you to wire money or ask for security deposits or rent before you’ve met or signed a lease.
- Spot disaster-related charity scams. Scammers will often try to make a quick profit from the misfortune of others. Check out the FTC’s advice on donating wisely and avoiding charity scams.
If you believe you may have been victimized by a scam, report it to https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/