Hurricane Ian left a swath of destruction on Florida’s west coast last week. As residents continue to pick up the remnants of their lives, they often find themselves desperate to find some relief. The same holds true for people outside the affected region who want to offer assistance, especially when it comes to giving financial donations.
Unfortunately, scammers see tragedies like this as a prime opportunity to make a quick buck. But government officials and consumer watchdogs have started a widespread campaign to inform the public about the deceitful tactics used by opportunistic scammers during times like these.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a warning to folks across the state who want to help their neighbors affected by the storm. She advised everyone to follow four steps when donating to any organization that’s promising to deliver Hurricane Ian relief.
- Donate to established disaster-relief charities that you recognize, such as the American Red Cross.
- Watch out for charities with similar names to well-known organizations.
- Be wary of organizations that use high-pressure pitches to solicit donations and refuse to give details about their organization.
- If you have any questions before giving, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 800 HELP-FLA (435-7352) to check on the charity’s legitimacy or to see if there are any complaints about the charity.
You can also visit the Check-A-Charity website from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to check the background of the charity in question.
The Better Business Bureau told Nashville’s WTVF that emotions can easily get the better of people when they’re looking to donate to victim relief. According to the BBB, scams happen 50% more often immediately following a disaster.
Lorneth Peters, director of marketing and communications for the BBB of Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, cautioned potential donors to be on the lookout for trigger words such as “give now” or “do this now.”
She also offered a simple action to prevent your money from getting into the wrong hands.
“Type in that nonprofit’s name in Google and [put] ‘scam’ behind it, and see what shows up,” Peters told WTVF. She added that if no results come up for the organization’s name, good or bad, that should be another red flag.
“They have not been around long enough to be vetted and to be deemed credible, she said.”
A Vetted Place To Donate
Our parent organization, The E.W. Scripps Company, owns five TV stations in Florida, including affiliates in Fort Meyers and Tampa. To help those affected by Hurricane Ian, the company is partnering with its charitable organization, the Scripps Howard Fund, to provide hurricane relief.
Teams from within Scripps in Florida are working directly with local organizations to make sure every dollar given to this fund goes directly to help the people and communities impacted by the storm.
If you want to donate to the foundation’s Hurricane Ian relief fund, simply text the word STORM to 50144. Or, you can visit the campaign’s website, set up by the Scripps Howard Fund, and make a donation there.