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BBB Warns of Hurricane Dorian Scams

September 3, 2019, 4:00 PM HST
* Updated September 3, 2:44 PM
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Photo taken on June 28, 2018. PC: Hawai‘i County Fire Department.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Hawai‘i is warning of scammers who may try to capitalize on the destruction left by Hurricane Dorian.

This is a time when communities want to do anything to help. Unfortunately, best intentions are too often twisted by scammers looking to profit, a BBB release said. With a variety of crowdfunding options and money transferring apps, it is especially important to dig a little deeper to understand where contributions are actually going.

The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. BBB suggests being proactive and finding trusted charities that are providing assistance. Checking give.org is a reliable way to check a charity’s rating and credibility, the release said.

Some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or a disaster, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.

BBB warns the public to be on the lookout for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used, BBB advised.

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Be cautious about gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing, while well-intentioned, may not be the quickest way to help those in need—unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to hand out such aid properly, BBB said. Donated goods may impose extra costs on a charity to cover storage and distribution, and may not meet the most urgent needs.

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The BBB release advised to never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or emails. These may redirect users to a look-alike website where they will be asked to provide personal financial information or may download harmful malware onto computers.

Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted, the release said.

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