MEMPHIS, TN —The FBI Memphis Field Office is warning Tennesseans to be cautious of charity and disaster fraudsters. When tragedies like Hurricane Ian occur, the public comes together to help those in need. Whether you are directly impacted or want to help, scammers will take advantage of a natural disaster, like Hurricane Ian, to steal your money, your personal information, or both.
“Charity and disaster fraud can come in many forms – cold calls, emails, social media posts, and crowdfunding sites,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas Korneski of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “While these scams can happen at any time, they are especially prevalent after high-profile disasters.”
The following are some reminders and tips on how to avoid falling victim to charity and disaster fraud:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
If you think you are a victim of charity or disaster fraud, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or online at the Department of Justice National Center for Disaster Fraud. You can also report suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.