As we have seen far too well during the Coronavirus pandemic, scammers are quite capable of taking whatever is happening in society and turning it into an opportunity to scam people.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires are common occurrences and we are about to enter both hurricane and wildfire seasons.  Partially due to global warming, last year the United States experienced 22 major natural disasters that cost more than a billion dollars each.   Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes bring out the best in people who want to donate to charities to help the victims. Unfortunately natural disasters also bring out the worst in scammers who are quick to take advantage of the generosity of people by contacting them posing as charities, but instead of collecting funds to help the victims of these natural disasters, these scam artists steal the money for themselves under false pretenses. Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are signed up for the federal Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you by phone. The problem is that whenever you are get a phone call, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a fake charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. Using a technique called spoofing, the scammers can manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear that the call is coming from a legitimate charity when it is not. Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email or text message you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.

Presently there are 80 major wildfires burning in 13 Western states causing tremendous damage.  Scammers are already setting up phony charities to capitalize on the generosity of our fellow citizens.  If you wish to give to charities helping the people affected by these wildfires, it is important to make sure that you are giving to a legitimate charity.

TIPS

Never provide credit card information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called or in response to an email or text message. Before you give to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with http://www.charitynavigator.org where you can learn whether or not the charity itself is a scam. You can also see how much of the money that the legitimate charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs.  Here is a link to a specific page of Charitynavigator.org that deals with vetted charities helping victims of wildfires. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=7574&search-box

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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