Patrol Report

Thomas Catri – Chief of Patrol

Pictures do reveal hurricanes’ catastrophic destruction. People all over the country are donating to Harvey and Irma disaster relief efforts, but law enforcement and consumer watchdogs urge caution: Beware of phony charities.

Scam artists use a host of tactics, bogus websites, emails, text messages and social media, just to name a few, to capitalize on Americans’ generosity after major crises. Unfortunately, criminals can exploit disasters for their own gain by sending fraudulent communications through email or social media and by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions.

If you’re donating to a charity or nonprofit, there are a few general tips to remember. It’s best to donate to a reputable organization that was not created in the direct aftermath of a disaster. When you donate, try to donate directly through an organizations website. Scammers use phishing emails to try to gain your personal information, and you should never donate using Facebook or Twitter directly. If you donate via text, only do so to organizations that you trust and have protections in place, like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The Federal Trade Commission can offer some additional advice, and you can also file a complaint with them if you suspect you’ve fallen prey to a charity scam.