COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The FBI is warning about charity scams following the deadly tornadoes that struck the midwest last week.
The FBI said scammers will find ways to collect donations for organizations that do little to no work, and the funds go directly to the fake charity’s creator. These scams can happen at any time, and sometimes scammers present themselves to be government officials to make their scheme seem legitimate.
Those that believe they are victims of a scam should contact the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, report to tips.fbi.gov, or report the online fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov. A complaint can also be filed with the Federal Trade Commission and suspected disaster fraud can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
The FBI provides the following tips:
- Donate to only established charities or groups whose work you are familiar with and trust.
- Be cautious about organizations with “copycat” names of names similar to well-known organizations.
- Be aware of new organizations that claim to assist victims of recent high-profile disasters.
- Do your research; use the Federal Trade Commission’s resources to review the track record of a charity.
- When donating, consider using a check or credit card. Charities or organizations that asks for cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer could be a scam.
- Use good cyber routines:
- Avoid clicking links or opening email from unknown people.
- Type out links manually instead of clicking them.
- Do not give out personal information in responding to an email, robocall, or robotext.
- Verify the website’s address – most trustworthy websites use “.org”, not “.com.”