COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – The FBI Columbia field office is warning the public about charity scams following last weekend’s deadly tornadoes across the Southeast and Midwest.
Officials say these scams can happen at any time, but they tend to increase following a natural disaster.
Sometimes scammers even pretend to be government officials to make the scheme more believable.
The FBI is offering several tips to protect you from these types of scams:
- Donate to established charities or groups whose work you are familiar with and trust.
- Be cautious of organizations with copycat names or names similar to well-known organizations.
- Be wary of new organizations that claim to aid victims of recent high-profile disasters.
- Do your research. Use the Federal Trade Commission's resources to review the track record of a charity.
- Consider donating using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, there is a good chance it is a scam.
- Practice good cyber routines:
- Do not click links or open email attachments from someone you do not know.
- Manually type out links instead of clicking on them.
- Do not provide any personal information in response to an email, robocall, or robotext.
- Check the website's address—most legitimate charity organization websites use .org, not .com.
If you’ve been the victim of charity or disaster fraud, you can report it multiple ways:
- Contact the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Report fraud to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.
- Report online fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Report suspected disaster fraud to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by visiting www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.