In the wake of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is seeing scam artists plying their trade all over the place, and is urging caution. Whenever tragedy strikes, the scammers are not far behind. The impending impacts of Hurricane Irma may only serve to increase the opportunities for scams.
The most common scam is the fake charity scam. The scammers set up online or phone donation sites that mimic true charities or claim to be "special" funds set up to help the victims of the tragedy. The money you give will go straight to the scammer not to the victims.
In a similar scam, the scammers will set up fake Go Fund Me pages or make other online appeals for help. Their stories are heart-wrenching and compelling, but they are fakes - your money goes to the scammer, not to a true victim.
What can you do to combat this?
Give to a well-known charity such as the Salvation Army or Red Cross, keeping in mind that not all charities--even legitimate charities--give your donations to the current crisis. So, when you donate, be clear that you want your donation to go to the Harvey Disaster Response, or the Irma Disaster Response if it becomes necessary. If the charity says they cannot guarantee that, then consider trying another charity that will honor your intentions.
Also consider giving locally. Your own faith community, an animal shelter in your community or another local group may be doing a donation drive. If you do not know the local group, check them out with your local Better Business Bureau, local television stations, or your local Chamber of Commerce or City Government.
Check to make sure your donations are tax deductible if that is important to you.
You may check out charities here: https://www.charitynavigator.org/ This site has a list of legitimate charities supporting victims of the Harvey Disaster.