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  1. "I've said this before because it's true, Americans are some of the most chartable people on the planet!" But it always happens after a disaster strikes, the bad guys see a way to to make a quick illegal buck! I'm sure the same thing is going to happen as category 4 hurricane Ian is currently hitting Florida as of this writing. Here's some ways you can avoid becoming, or what to do if you are a victim of charity or disaster fraud from an informative article by the F.B.I. Read on... Charity fraud schemes seek donations for organizations that do little or no work—instead, the money goes to the fake charity’s creator. While these scams can happen at any time, they are especially prevalent after high-profile disasters. Criminals often use tragedies to exploit you and others who want to help. Charity fraud scams can come to you in many forms: emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms, cold calls, etc. Always use caution and do your research when you're looking to donate to charitable causes. After a natural disaster or other emergency, unethical contractors and other scammers may commit insurance fraud, re-victimizing people whose homes or businesses have been damaged. Sometimes these fraudsters even pretend to be affiliated with the government, when they are not. If you need any post-disaster repairs, do your research before hiring any contractor. How To Protect Yourself Give to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust. Be aware of organizations with copycat names or names similar to reputable organizations. Be wary of new organizations that claim to aid victims of recent high-profile disasters. Do your research. Use the Federal Trade Commission's resources to examine the track record of a charity. https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams Give using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it's probably a scam. Learn more about this trick from the FTC at the above link. Practice good cyber hygiene: Don't click links or open email attachments from someone you don't know. Manually type out links instead of clicking on them. Don't provide any personal information in response to an email, robocall, or robotext. Check the website's address—most legitimate charity organization websites use .org, not .com. After a natural disaster or other emergency, carefully vet any contractors before hiring them to work on your home or business. Report Fraud If you're a victim of charity or disaster fraud or have information about these types of schemes, you can: Contact your state consumer protection office https://www.usa.gov/state-consumer Report fraud to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov https://www.fbi.gov/ Report online fraud to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) https://www.ic3.gov/ File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/ Report suspected disaster-related fraud to the National Center for Disaster Fraud https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud
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