I’ve written before about thieves and scammers who take advantage of disasters for their own gain.  These vile scams are not new and are repeated in slight variations with each disaster.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a new warning to consumers about the scams that are happening following the Moore, Oklahoma tornado disaster (www.ftc.gov; “FTC Warns Consumers: Charity Scams Often Follow Disaster”).

The FTC article repeats prior warnings that the scams are sent in multiple forms, e.g., emails, regular mail, phone calls, in person solicitations, on websites or social networking sites.  The good advice for consumers is the same: protect your private information!  Do not give out personal or financial information (e.g., credit card and bank account numbers) until and unless you’ve confirmed that the charity is a legitimate one.

In addition, the FTC article provides links to other resources consumers can use to check whether a charity is reputable as well as how much the charity spends on administrative costs.  The resources cited are the following:

  • Better Business Bureau’s “Wise Giving Alliance” (www.bbb.org);
  • Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org);
  • Charity Watch (charity watch.org);
  • Guidestar (www.guidestar.org); and
  • National Association of State Charity Officials: This is a way to find out information about a charity within a specific State.

People want to help disaster victims but scammers know that.  Consumers need to check out charities so the scammers don’t get the windfall of personal and financial information as well as contributions that were intended for the disaster victims.