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Friday, November 2, 2012

Avoid Hurricane Sandy Charity Fraud

We know far too well: wherever the headlines are - scammers will strike.

Washington residents should do due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims. Solicitations can originate as emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls, and other similar methods.

Protect Yourself When Donating to Charities
If you are asked to make a charitable donation to help people in disaster-affected areas, consider these tips from the Federal Trade Commission on giving wisely:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight. You can verify the a charity is registered to do business in Washington by checking with the Secretary of State website at  
  • Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
  • Do not give out personal or financial information. Do not give out your personal information such as your credit card or bank account number – unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Check out a charity before you donate. Contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at  
Investors: Beware of Hurricane Sandy Investment Pitches
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) is also warning investors to beware of Hurricane Sandy investment pitches.

Investors should beware of cold-calling telephone salespeople, advertisements, and Internet postings that promote investment pools or bonds to help storm victims, or tout water-removal or purification technologies, electricity-generating devices and distressed real estate remediation programs should be a red flag for investors.

For more information about Hurricane Sandy related investment fraud, visit

Report Fraud
Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with Hurricane Sandy should be reported to the toll-free National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721. The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.