Hurricane Harvey has many people looking to help and many others looking to profit. Experts say the stage has been set for scams to start popping up. Local Five’s Kris Schuller has the information you need to know, so you won’t be taken by these criminals.
Across the country people are opening their hearts to help Harvey’s victims by giving cash donations to trusted charities. But Susan Bach says that generosity can quickly become the target for scammers.
“The bad people, the scammers, are going to see this as an opportunity to make money,” said Bach of the Better Business Bureau.
With thousands losing everything they own to the Houston floodwaters, the call for donations grows each day. But Bach says some are scams directed at you in unsolicited phone calls, texts and emails.
“Be very wary of clicking on links in social media and emails claiming you can use this to donate – that’s where the scammers are hiding malware,” Bach said.
Bach says in recent days hundreds of website domains have been registered using Hurricane Harvey in their name. She fears some will be used to create look-a-like charity websites.
“We can’t say for sure all of these people are doing it for bad reasons – but certainly an ounce of caution is warranted for sure,” Bach said.
In 2013 a website was created claiming to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. Investigators say those behind it kept 99 percent of the $600,000 raised.
“Technology scams and the sophistication of which they work – is really an area of concern,” said Capt. Todd Freeman of the Appleton Police Department.
Freeman says take your time before donating money and research the group asking for cash. He says websites like Give.org is a good place to start.
“This is the time you want to do a little research first to make sure your money is well spent,” Bach said.