TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – When a disaster like Hurricane Dorian devastating the northern Bahamas happens, people immediately want to help those in need.

On Thursday, state Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a consumer alert warning Floridians about potential charity scams exploiting Bahamian-recovery efforts.

Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on September 1st as a Category 5 hurricane. It carried maximum sustained winds of 180 mph and a storm surge of up to 23 feet above normal tide levels, causing significant damage to infrastructure, knocking out electricity, leaving many people displaced and causing unknown numbers of injuries and deaths.

Relief efforts are underway to assist the victims of this disaster. However, Attorney General Moody is warning Floridians to be on the lookout for fraudulent relief charities or crowdsourcing campaigns that could be scams.

“Unfortunately, when we see catastrophic events like these, we also see scammers rush in to prey on the good intentions of generous Floridians. Before you give to organizations seeking donations for Bahamas-restoration efforts, please take steps to ensure your donation is going to legitimate charities and entities,” said Moody in a statement.

Below are tips for anyone wishing to donate to assist recovery efforts

  • Never give credit card numbers, gift card account numbers or bank account information to a caller on the phone or in response to an unsolicited email.
  • Before donating over the phone or online, take steps to verify the charity or fundraising campaign.
  • Avoid solicitors that use high-pressure tactics.
  • Watch for charities with similar-sounding names. It is not unusual for scammers to choose names that sound like the names of legitimate, widely-known charities.
  • Look up the charity on CharityNavigator.org before giving.
  • Research and review the organization carefully to understand how much of the donation will actually go towards the work of the charity as opposed to administrative expenses and overhead.

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