— Fairfax County (@fairfaxcounty) August 29, 2017
We’ve all been affected by the scenes coming from southeast Texas recently as Hurricane Harvey hammered that part of the country.
As residents seek ways to lend a hand to those suffering in that area, Fairfax County officials are warning that scams abound during situations such as these.
“Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or good cause,” reads the Charity Fraud page on the county Department of Cable and Consumer Services website. “Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines.”
Among the suggestions provided:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails by clicking on links contained within those messages.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
- Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using online resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status, rather than following a purported link to the site.
- Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
- If you are solicited by a charity, don’t feel rushed or pressured into making an immediate commitment. Ask the caller or solicitor to provide written information about the charity’s programs and finances before you make a contribution.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says donating cash to a reputable charitable organization is the best way to provide support from afar.
If you’re interested in helping with Harvey, here are some tips to keep in mind:- To help voluntary/nonprofit…
The New York Times has provided a list of local and national organizations to which one might consider donating, including:
- The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
- Houston Food Bank and Food Bank of Corpus Christi
- Carter Blood Care
- Houston Humane Society and San Antonio Humane Society
- United Way of Greater Houston
- The American Red Cross
FEMA recommends visiting the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website to find out more ways to help.