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Beware of Hurricane Harvey scams

National Guard troops rescuing flood victims

National Guard troops helping displaced citizens during the Hurricane Harvey disaster.

Cyber-criminals exploit human tragedies

It’s a horrible state of human affairs that I need to mention this, but unfortunately, I feel I should remind you: There are bad people who will seek to profit on both the misfortune and also the kindheartedness of others.

Whenever a major event like the Hurricane Harvey disaster occurs, scammers will come out of their little hole in the ground and try to trick people out of money.

Even if you’re nowhere close to Houston or the surrounding areas, here are some things to be wary of:

  • Facebook pages pretending to be dedicated to victim relief having links to scam websites.
  • Tweets having messages and hashtags purporting to be for victim relief also having links to scam websites.
  • Of course, scam and phishing emails will go out with similar links.

All of the above have happened before with previous disasters, and it’s safe to assume that newer social services like Instagram and maybe even Snapchat, et al, will have similar posts.

The scam websites these links will go to have a variety of options… they may actually try to collect donations, or just as (more so?) likely, will lead to malware infections.

We advise in the following weeks be VERY discerning regarding making donations to sites or organizations that you haven’t heard of before. Be especially suspicious of any Facebook link or Tweet that is a “forward” from one of your well-meaning, but mistaken social connections.

Safe ways to help

Just like there are bad people, there are also people with good hearts who wish to help others going through disasters. Here is a list of a few safe ways to contribute from afar:

  • Of course, the Red Cross is already there. You can donate online at http://www.redcross.org/ . You can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS to donate, or text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10 which will show up on your next phone bill.
  • Catholic Charities USA is also accepting online donations and texting donations by sending CCUSADISASTER to 71777.
  • You can call the Salvation Army at 1-800-SAL-ARMY or go to their website at http://helpsalvationarmy.org.

 

There are many other ways to donate and contribute, and searching online will help you find them; which is probably your best option… don’t rely on a social media post from someone you don’t know… or even someone you do know… if you can’t verify it’s a valid organization.

At WJP Enterprises, we send our prayers and best wishes for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey… the victims, the first responders, and the service organizations that will now move in to assist.

 

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