Protect yourself from Hurricane Dorian relief donation scams

By PhilanthropyFOXBusiness

Scammers pretending to help Hurricane Dorian's victims are coming for your money, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis told FOXBusiness.

"Especially right now, as the images are graphic and powerful, and it’s consuming the news day." Patronis said. "These guys, they just flourish under this environment to part people from their money."

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Examples he cited include a scam artist pretending to be a Tampa meteorologist to solicit donations via Facebook.

Patronis' office recommends that individuals use these four tips to avoid scams:

  • Stay away from donation campaigns that don’t provide adequate information about the relief the money will provide.
  • Check how long a group's social media has been active.
  • Record how much you give to a website, and even screenshot.
  • If you are feeling pressured to donate immediately, that could be a sign of a scam.

Patronis warned that even a link sent from a friend needs due diligence.

"You’ve got to research these things out," he explained.

Patronis listed websites and services including GoFundMe, Zelle and Cash App as spaces where scammers may try to separate charitable Americans from their hard-earned cash.

Hurricane Dorian hit Florida's east coast earlier in the week but caused less damage than forecasters predicted. In the Bahamas, the death toll has reached 30 people and could climb higher. Damage is estimated to be in the billions.

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    There are plenty of verified avenues to helping those affected by the storm. For example, GoFundMe recommends people who want to give visit the site's Hurrican Dorian donation hub.

    "The hub is updated on a regular basis with new campaigns, and we guarantee the funds will reach the intended beneficiaries," GoFundMe spokeswoman Rachel Hollis told FOXBusiness.

    In addition, both the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator released lists of charities that have pre-positioned resources on the ground ready to provide food, shelter and medical care to those in Dorian's path. The two organizations monitor charities to make sure they meet certain accountability and transparency standards.

    FOXBusiness' Paul Conner contributed to this report.

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