Va. Attorney General: Be careful about Harvey donations

Va. Attorney General: Be careful about Harvey donations

When there are disasters anywhere in the world, we seem to hear about the fake charities. Legitimate charities focus on aid, not harassment.

The approach is likely to come through the internet or by telephone.

The Maryland attorney general says incidents like Hurricane Harvey in Texas introduces opportunities for scammers to prey on victims willing to donate to the cause. You're better off just typing in the sites on your own rather than clicking on links. This information is used by criminals for social engineering their way further into your accounts or ID theft.

Additionally, the attorney general's consumer protection unit offers the following guidelines to avoid becoming a victim of charity fraud. Call the organization and ask if they are soliciting donations. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity.

Local and national organizations are accepting donations, but it's important to recognize a charity from a cheat.

But unlike public charities that are required to disclose their finances annually with the Internal Revenue Service, someone who runs a crowdfunding campaign isn't required to disclose how they use the raised funds, says Mr. Borochoff.

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Is the organization tax exempt? Hackers have been spamming email inboxes with phishing attacks that claim to let you help victims, but actually steal logins, passwords, and in some cases, credit card information.

Greg Micklos has traded his office for a laptop and a folding chair, in the middle of a drop off location for supplies to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Especially after a natural disaster, many "pop up" charities often adopt names that include the name of the storm and may not have the ability or intention of carrying out the stated charitable mission.

Watch out for sound-alike names. If you aren't sure of a name, look it up on the internet or in a phone book. Be forewarned, check out any request for donations.

So how do you make sure your donation will go directly toward helping hurricane relief?

"Our people are safe, and we are very grateful and their families too", McNichols said.

That is proving true again as donations pile up for the tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of people who have been displaced by epic flooding along the Gulf Coast.