By Lars Dalseide | November 19 2012 18:05

Refuse to be a Victim when trying to help those suffering from Hurricane Sandy

NRA Refuse To Be A Victim program logo

Ruthann Sprague, NRA's National Refuse To Be A Victim® Coordinator, has been hearing stories about those trying to profit from the victims of Hurricane Sandy and the following storms. After sitting down with other Refuse personnel, she asked that we post this warning on NRAblog. Here's Ruthann:
Fairfax, Virginia - We are moved by the plight of our fellow Americans suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. In the wake of such natural disasters, we want to contribute to victim relief efforts and organizations assisting those in distress. We need to do due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims, lest we find ourselves a victim of fraud.

Solicitations can originate as emails, telephone calls, door-to-door collections, mailings, websites, and similar methods.

Refuse To Be A Victim® would like to remind everyone of some safety guidelines so that you don't end up being a victim of fraud or identity theft. Before making any donation consumers should follow these safety guidelines:

  • Never respond to any unsolicited incoming emails, to include NEVER clicking on links within those messages that may contain computer viruses.
  • Be cautious of emails that include pictures of the disaster area in attached files. These files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Instead of following a purported link to a website, use internet based resources to verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations.
  • Do not be pressured into making a contribution. Reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations by asking for money transfer services.
  • Most legitimate charities maintain websites and emails that end in .org rather than .com.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay be credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make a check payable to an individual. (A virtual credit card works well in these instances.)
  • Do not give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. This would include birthdates, social security numbers, bank account numbers and routing numbers.
  • Make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make a donation on your behalf.

If you do find yourself a victim of fraudulent disaster relief claims submitted by a person or organization contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by phone at 866-720-5721, fax at 225-334-4707, or email disaster@leo.gov.

You can report suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Refuse To Be A Victim® reminds you that it is always better to be safe than sorry! By following the above guidelines you can refuse to be a victim.

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