Katie Pelton

A lot of you might be looking for ways to help the victims of Hurricane Florence, but make sure to keep an eye out for scammers. Unfortunately, whenever we see tragedies or natural disasters, we also see crooks come out in full force to take advantage of the situation.

You may not know that Call for Action is an international, nonprofit consumer hotline. The organization reports that charity scams after Hurricane Katrina led to more than 1,200 federal prosecutions of fraud. Last year, there were a similar amount of cases after Hurricane Harvey. Don’t become the next victim. Make sure to be really careful about who you give your money to.

Call for Action said calls, emails and fake websites are the main ways scammers get to people, but they can also go door to door collecting money for a fake charity.

The president of Call for Action, Shirley Rooker, is sharing some red flags you can watch for, like if the person says they need your money right away. Another red flag is if the person cannot provide you information about how the funds will be used. If they ask for cash only, gift cards, or a wire transfer that can be a warning sign, too.

Rooker said there are several questions you should ask before donating money, like how will your donation help victims? Also, what percentage of the donation goes to the charity and is the organization tax-exempt?

Don’t stop there: Make sure to take a close look at the name of the charity. Call for Action warns that scammers use names that are very similar to legitimate well-known charities. Make sure to research the name and watch for fake websites that look like real ones. Crooks can change one letter or character in a website address, so you have to look very closely. Do not give out your credit card or bank information unless you are sure it’s a legitimate organization.

If you are looking for a safe way to donate to the victims of the storm, the nonprofit organization United Way set up a Hurricane Florence recovery fund. I put a link to it on KKTV’s website www.kktv.com, just click on ‘Find It’.

I also want to warn you about another scam that’s hitting our area hard again. Several viewers called our newsroom last week because they got the Medicare scam call. I told you last week that open enrollment for Medicare begins next month. Because of that, scammers are coming out of the woodwork to try to steal your information.

If you don’t know the number on your Caller ID, don’t answer it. Instead, call Medicare directly using a trusted phone number and ask if they are trying to get a hold of you.

If you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. I also put a link to that on KKTV’s website for you. Click on ‘Find It’.

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