TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) — The outpouring of support to help victims of Hurricane Dorian has been overwhelming, but with all of that kindness often come the crooks who are looking to rip off the kindhearted.
That’s why Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is warning consumers to be on alert for charitable donation scams typically using reputable crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe, RocketHub, Indiegogo, or YouCaring. Some scam artists may also ask for donations via money transfer apps like Venmo, Cash App and PayPal.
“With recent reports of a scam artist posing as a Tampa meteorologist to solicit money for Hurricane Dorian relief efforts, I’m warning all Floridians to stay on guard and watch out for post-hurricane fraud and scams,” said CFO Patronis in a released statement. “Bad actors are always looking to make a quick buck off the generosity of others after a disaster and it is important to know how to donate wisely and identify the warning signs of online donation scams. Storms bring out the best in people but can also bring out the worst in some. Do your research before donating and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
4 Tips to Avoid Hurricane Dorian Donation Scams
1. The More Information the Better. Stay away from donation campaigns that don’t provide adequate information about the relief the money will provide.
2. Check Social Media & Research. If a group or individual is unfamiliar to you, research and research again. Scam artists will often times create a social media page right before they launch the donation campaign, so check to see how long they have been active. Even check the image they used for their profile to see if it’s a stock image, which is a good indication the campaign is a scam. Even if the name of the group or individual sounds familiar, always do your homework.
3. Keep Records. Be sure to note exactly how much you donated, the name of the individual or group launching the donation campaign and any additional information that has been supplied. Even consider taking a screenshot of the web page.
4. Don’t Feel Pressured. Those who are running online scams typically try to pressure you to donate IMMEDIATELY.
Click here for other helpful tips from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to avoid getting scammed.
Consumers can also confirm the legitimacy of a charity through the state of Florida’s Check-A-Charity tool, which is one of several resources available to find additional information on charitable organizations in Florida.
Consumers can also call 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-FL-AYUDA en español), or visit FloridaConsumerHelp.com