Valley residents warned about charity scams in time for Hurrican - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Valley residents warned about charity scams in time for Hurricane Florence

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NEWTON FALLS, Ohio -

It's no secret that a natural disaster can bring out the most generous of instancts in some people- and there are always scammers ready to take advantage of those instincts. 

With Hurricane Florence predicted to cause "catastrophic" damage, the Federal Trade Commission and Valley police are already warning community members to "give wisely". 

The Newton Falls Police Department took to social media Wednesday to share the warning. 

The post reads, in part, "If you are making a donation for hurricane relief, remember to give enough thought to where exactly you are sending your money. Because scammers are hoping that generous people like you, in your eagerness to help, won't do your homework so they can steal that money." 

The FTC provides several tips for staying safe and making sure your donations actually go to help:

Do some research online

  • Looking for a charity to support? Search for a cause you care about – like "hurricane relief" or "homeless kids" – and phrases like "best charity" or "highly rated charity."
  • When you consider giving to a specific charity, search its name plus "complaint," "review," "rating," or "scam."

Be careful how you pay

  • If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don't do it. That's how scammers ask you to pay.
  • To be safer, pay by credit card or check.
  • It's a good practice to keep a record of all donations. And review your statements closely to make sure you're only charged the amount you agreed to donate – and that you're not signed up to make a recurring donation.
  • Before clicking on a link to donate online, make sure you know who is receiving your donation. Read Donating Through an Online Giving Portal for more information.


Keep scammers' tricks in mind

  • Don't let anyone rush you into making a donation. That's something scammers do.
  • Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.
  • Scammers can change caller ID to make a call look like it's from a local area code.
  • Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving.
  • Scammers make lots of vague and sentimental claims but give no specifics about how your donation will be used.
  • Bogus organizations may claim that your donation is tax-deductible when it is not.
  • Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation is not only a scam, it's illegal.

If you see any red flags, or if you're not sure about how a charity will use your donation, consider giving to a different charity. There are many worthy organizations who will use your donation wisely.

The Federal Trade Commission also recommends checking one of several databases that provides information on reputable charities: 

The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.

Report scams to FTC.gov/complaint.

Find your state charity regulator at nasconet.org and report to them, too. Share any information you have – like the name of the organization or fundraiser, phone number, and what the fundraiser said.
 

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