NEW YORK—The FBI’s New York Field Office reminds the public to apply a critical eye before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of Harvey victims. In the past, tragedies and natural disasters have inspired individuals with criminal intent to solicit contribution while falsely representing a charitable organization or good cause.
Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, the public should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:
Donate to charities you know and trust.
Designate the disaster to ensure your funds go toward disaster relief.
Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited e-mail.
Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization.
Verify the legitimacy of any e-mail solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number.
Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity.
Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charity websites end in .org rather than .com.
Make contributions directly, rather than relying on others to make a contribution on your behalf.
“As we continue to keep those affected by Hurricane Harvey in our thoughts, we must also remember how tragedies like this often serve as a breeding ground for those who want to take advantage of people’s generosity. It’s heartwarming to see the outpouring of support from people across the country who are eager to donate to the relief cause, but we urge everyone to be smart and exercise their due diligence in researching the organizations they intend to donate to. As always, it’s essential that every penny donated goes into the pockets of those who are most in need,” said Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.
For those who would like to donate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends this list of trusted organizations.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of Hurricane Harvey victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov.