Disaster Relief: Don’t be a victim of fraud

As a public Service announcement I am copy and posting this on my blog. The original content comes form CENTER FOR CYBER SAFETY AND EDUCATION,

We have all seen the devastation and trail of destruction that
events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can cause. But
before you take out your credit card, make sure your donations are
really going to the victims and those that are helping provide them with
the materials to survive and start their lives over again. While our
hearts ache with helplessness, others’ fill with greed and see this as
the perfect opportunity to exploit your sympathies and deceive you into
sending money.

If you want to help by donating, make sure you know who you
are really donating to before you give out your credit card number or
write a check.

Any time you give to a charity, you want to do your homework, but in a
crisis like this, we are often inspired by social media or by what we
see on television and rush to make a donation. It is in times like these
that we recommend you stick with the bigger, established organizations
with proven track records. These organizations have the resources and
structures to maximize your donation with minimal overhead, meaning more
of your money will go to help victims.  You can find a great list of
them at https://www.nvoad.org/voad-members/national-members/.
Some unknown “charities”, GoFundMe-style requests, and social media
outreaches you come across may be legitimate, but many are not. Even if
they are really trying to help, it is not uncommon for organizations
like these to have high overhead and administrative cost that will
result in only a small amount of your donation actually making its way
to help the victims.


  • Don’t give over the phone or click on links found in emails or
    social media. Go directly to the official website for a charity that you
    are familiar with and donate on their page. Don’t give to any third
    party solicitations.
  • Be skeptical of cash requests in front of your local grocery store
    or other establishments. Who are these people? Don’t be fooled by what
    they say or how they are dressed. Ask questions, or better yet, go back
    home, research them and then donate online.
  • Don’t be fooled by celebrity names being attached to a campaign. The
    organization could be using someone’s name without their permission, or
    that celebrity could also have been duped and is unwittingly lending
    their name to what they think is a good cause.
  • Don’t fall for all the sad stories you are going to see and read
    about where they ask you to give to help a specific victim. There will
    be hundreds of thousands of such stories. You can best help by
    supporting legitimate charities, not by sending them money directly.
  • Give directly to your charity of choice and designate that you want
    the money to go to their Hurricane Michael Relief efforts. This will
    restrict them from using the money to fund their other ongoing programs.

Now is not the time to take a chance or fall for a phone or email
scam. People really do need help, and it is best to support the experts
who are trained and prepared to help those in need.

Your help and support of others is greatly appreciated. Just make sure you don’t get scammed and become a victim yourself.