CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Thousands of communities across the country have been impacted by natural disasters this summer.

In 2023, millions of Americans are facing economic difficulties due to flooding, fires, drought, storm damage, and other weather emergencies.

Natural disasters call for donations of goods, services, and money. It’s also an opportunity for thieves to create ways to prey on people looking to help.

The Federal Trade Commission offers this advice before you make a donation, and how to recognize, avoid and report disaster-related charity schemes:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record of dealing with disasters.
  • Research the organization yourself —especially if the donation request comes on social media. Search the name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.” And check out the charity on the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or Candid. If the message was from a friend, ask them if they know the organization themselves. Find out exactly how much of every dollar you donate goes directly to the charity’s beneficiaries.
  • Be cautious about giving to individuals on crowdfunding sites. If you’re considering it, giving to someone you personally know and trust is safest. Also, review the platform’s policies and procedures. Some crowdfunding sites take measures to check out postings asking for help after a disaster. Others don’t.
  • Don’t donate to anyone who insists you can only pay by cash, gift card, wiring money, or cryptocurrency. That’s how scammers tell you to pay. If you decide to donate, pay by credit card, which gives you more protections.
  • Confirm the number before you text to donate. Go straight to the charity. Is it their number?

Report a charity scheme or other fraud to the FTC at their website.

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