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Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Police warn of scams tied to Hurricane Florence relief

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 2:12 p.m.
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence on the eastern coast of the United States on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (NOAA via AP)
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence on the eastern coast of the United States on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (NOAA via AP)

The Pennsylvania State Police is warning residents to be alert for fraud tied to relief efforts for Hurricane Florence.

Fraudulent solicitations can come in email, by telephone and from pop-up charities.

“After a natural disaster occurs, many people rush to financially help those in need,” state police said. “Criminals lurks in the shadows of natural disasters and prey upon vulnerable individuals and organizations hoping that generous people, in their eagerness to assist, will donate without vetting the charity.”

State police recommend residents do research and planning to ensure their donations are used to support the intended cause.

Among the tips offered:

  • Never provide personal information including social security number, date of birth, credit card number or address.
  • Be suspicious of any stranger calling asking for money, regardless of the situation.
  • Government agencies will never call to ask for verification of personal information, or to request payment.
  • Verify the legitimacy of any email or telephone solicitation by researching the organization or calling the company back.
  • Do not assume that charities posted on social media or on the internet are legitimate. Charities can be vetted at give.org, charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org and guidestar.org.
  • Before giving to a specific charity, search its name along with terms such as complaint, review, rating or scam.
  • Be aware of copycat names and names similar to those of legitimate charities.
  • Make sure websites are correct and not copycats. Watch for misspellings or improper English.
  • Most legitimate charity websites end in .org instead of .com.
  • Never click on attachments and links in unsolicited emails.
  • Designate the disaster to ensure funds to toward disaster relief.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally ask for donations in cash, gift cards or by money transfers.
  • To be safer, pay by credit card or check. Never write a check payable to individuals.
  • Give to charities that are known and trusted.

Those who believe they have been the target of a scam can report them to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or by calling 877-382-4357.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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