Natural disasters often result in predatory consumer scams popping up nationwide, and Arizona consumers need to be alert to those potential schemes, Attorney General Tom Horne said today.
“One of the more unfortunate consequences of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy is that scammers make their move in an effort to defraud consumers,” Horne said. “Generosity runs deep among Americans and when a crisis hits, even one that’s more than 2000 miles away, Arizonans have a great tradition of responding. Therefore, I am cautioning all Arizonans that when they give to a relief agency, they make sure they are giving to an established and responsible organization.”
Here are some consumer tips for charitable giving:
- To help victims, consider donating to nationally known and legitimate charities, like the Red Cross, rather than charities that you may not recognize. The IRS says that swindlers may attempt to use the destruction Sandy left behind in order to trick people into donating money to bogus sites that appear to be charities.
- Don’t judge a charity by its name. False charities may use names that closely resemble legitimate charities.
- Don’t let callers play on your sympathy by identifying their organization with the specific disaster. This can be a tactic to get your money.
- Don’t be pressured. Give only when you are comfortable with the charity.
- Avoid cash donations and make checks payable to the organization, not to an individual.
- Internet scams may emerge on social media and through unsolicited emails.
- After natural disasters, schemers often use fake videos, URLs or other schemes designed to commit identity or financial theft.
- Be cautious of Facebook postings, tweets, emails and websites claiming to have exclusive video or pleading for donations for disaster relief efforts. The postings often include malicious code that attempts to infect computers with viruses, spyware or Trojan horses.
More information on how to protect yourself from charitable scams is available here.