Repairing your credit can be an uphill battle. You’re looking at months of hard work, negotiating with creditors, reworking your budget and identifying the factors that are making your credit score lag. In short, it’s a hassle and it takes lots of time.
That long-anticipated day has finally come and gone. Your kids looked sharp and neat sporting spiffy backpacks and dressed in their spanking new back-to-school clothing. You watched them board that bus and waved them off from your perch at the bus stop until your arm hurt.
Hurricane Harvey has wrought more devastation than any natural disaster in the U.S. over the last decade. The death count is still climbing, thousands of people have lost their homes, and the estimated cost of relief is currently topping $10 billion.
The news reports recounting the stories of Houston residents whose lives have been upturned by the storm can really tug at your heart. In fact, you may be moved enough to open your purse strings and donate whatever you can to help the victims of this horrific hurricane.
Unfortunately, though, that’s exactly what many scammers are counting on. When emotions run high, they know they can count on your caution to be thrown to the winds and your wallet to be thrown wide open.
If you’d love to assist with relief funds, but want to make sure your money is really being used for helping victims – and not padding the pockets of scammers – use this handy guide as your reference. Now you can give with confidence!
1.) Avoid Harvey Scams
Opportunists using this crisis to con you out of your money are great in number, but with just a bit of awareness and precaution, you can avoid all scammers.
First, make sure your computer’s security systems are updated to the most recent versions, as scammers will first prey on unprotected devices.
Second, as always, never share your personal information with an unverified source.
There are hundreds of “must-watch” hurricane Harvey videos circulating the web, each with attention-grabbing titles and thousands of views. Many of these, though, will ask you to input your email username and password before you can watch them. Doing so can infect your device with malware and give scammers an open door into your computer.
Similarly, do not click on any links or download anything from suspicious sources. Remember, the urgent “Donate Now” ads on your social media pages might look convincing, but may actually be the work of a sophisticated scammer.
Finally, it’s best not to donate over the phone because it’s difficult to verify a charity’s authenticity that way.
2.) Verify a charity’s validity
While Harvey scammers abound, that doesn’t mean there aren’t thousands of sincere people who are genuinely concerned for victims and are collecting donations to help them out.
If you come across a charity you’d like to donate to, you can easily determine its validity. Check out the charity on the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or Charity Watch. Be sure the charity’s name matches the listed charity exactly. Alternatively, contact the organization yourself.
You can also ask a representative to share details about the charity with you. If they seem reluctant to answer questions or they brush off your concerns, that’s a red flag – proceed with caution!