Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados and super storms are often also followed by a sad certainty: Scams
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office issued a press release on Thursday warning that con artists are already soliciting donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy that battered much of the East Coast.
Prosecutors are warning that these crooks claim to represent community organizations or well-known charities in raising money that they actually pocket themselves.
The DA says that you shouldn't fall for their pitches when they call, email you, or even knock on your door.
To make sure your donation for relief efforts reaches those affected by a disaster, the District Attorney’s Office recommends the following:
- Send your donation directly to major, established non-profit organizations, such as the Red Cross or The Salvation Army. You can find their contact information online.
- Verify the legitimacy of a charity with one of the following:
- GuideStar: www.guidestar.org
- Charity Navigator: www.charitynavigator.org
- California Attorney General’s Office: http://oag.ca.gov/charities/charity-research-tool
- Charity Watch: http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html
Red flags that the solicitor is a con artist:
- Putting high pressure on you to donate.
- Asking for cash; offering to stop by your house to pick up a check; or requesting alternate forms of payment, such as a wire transfer.
- Being unable or unwilling to explain how the donation will be used.
Do’s and Don’ts:
- Do not click on links contained within any unsolicited emails asking for donations.
- Do not give out personal information such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, bank account numbers, to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. This may compromise your privacy and result in identity theft.
- If you donate online, make sure that you enter your bank information only on a secure website. You should see “https” rather than “http” in your browser - and a closed yellow lock on your screen.
If you have questions or believe you are a victim of a scam, call the District At District Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Unit at 408-792-2880.