The Pennsylvania State Police is reminding people to be on alert for charity scams that may include, emails, phone calls, or pop-up charities as a result of Hurricane Florence.
State police recommend residents do research and planning to ensure their donations are used to support the intended cause.
Among the tips offered:
- Never provide personal information including social security number, date of birth, credit card number or address.
- Be suspicious of any stranger calling asking for money, regardless of the situation.
- Government agencies will never call to ask for verification of personal information, or to request payment.
- Verify the legitimacy of any email or telephone solicitation by researching the organization or calling the company back.
- Do not assume that charities posted on social media or on the internet are legitimate. Charities can be vetted at give.org, charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org and guidestar.org.
- Before giving to a specific charity, search its name along with terms such as complaint, review, rating or scam.
- Be aware of copycat names and names similar to those of legitimate charities.
- Make sure websites are correct and not copycats. Watch for misspellings or improper English.
- Most legitimate charity websites end in .org instead of .com.
- Never click on attachments and links in unsolicited emails.
- Designate the disaster to ensure funds to toward disaster relief.
- Legitimate charities do not normally ask for donations in cash, gift cards or by money transfers.
- To be safer, pay by credit card or check. Never write a check payable to individuals.
- Give to charities that are known and trusted.
Those who believe they have been the target of a scam can report them to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or by calling 877-382-4357.