Scammers are trying to cash in on the latest tornado outbreak

ConsumerAffairs

If you want to donate, there are safe ways to do that

Tornado season is open for business, folks! And that means for every twister that lands in Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky or any place else, there’s a scammer sweeping down to take sympathizers for all they’re worth.

These scammers aren’t just setting down in the areas hit by tornadoes, but calling, writing, texting anyone anywhere, pitching a story to try and find a pocket they can pick. The best way to steer clear of these disaster-chasing scammers? Know what their tactics have in common.

In the aftermath of a disaster, you can help yourself and others spot scams by visiting ftc.gov/WeatherEmergencies and remembering these three key points:

  • FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) don’t charge application fees. Only scammers say they’re a government official and demand money to help you qualify for FEMA funds or government grants. The best place to get information is fema.gov or sba.gov if you are a business owner.

  • Scammers offer help but demand you pay for clean-up or repairs upfront. Never pay in full upfront. And don’t hire anyone who refuses to give you copies of their license and insurance, and a contract in writing.

  • Scammers will set up websites or go door-to-door claiming to be part of a legitimate-sounding charity. They'll use names deceptively similar to real organizations, and pressure you for an immediate donation. If you have any questions about those organizations’ validity, research them before donating by using websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar. If you’re not directly affected but want to donate to help people in need, take time to research places to donate. That way, you make sure your money goes to the people in need, not charity scammers.

And, one last thing – if you suspect a weather-related scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov

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