Officials Warn of Post-Harvey Fake Charities

Authorities from the state level up to the federal level are warning Floridians to be on the look-out for possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricane Harvey.

Officials are also encouraging people to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.

While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, state and federal officials say people should be aware of criminals out to make a fast buck.

Officials say those who prey on generosity can try to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. 

Authorities say fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.

Criminals often send emails that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. 

These sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.

People can make sure their donations get to the right places, and that their own personal information is safeguarded, by following a few tips.

First, be sure to donate to recognized charities. 

Also, be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. 

Never give or send cash. Always use a method of payment that can be documented, like a check.

And never give out personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords, to anyone who solicits a contribution. 

Legitimate charities won't ask for this information, but scam artists may use it to steal a donor's identity and money.

Officials say that natural charitable instincts can make a donor a target for a bottom-feeder. 

The advice is to check the credentials of the charity thoroughly, and give wisely.

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