Consumer Alert: Beware of scammers looking to profit off of severe weather

Posted: Updated:
EDISON -

From this week's storms in the tristate area that left thousands without power, to the recent massive flooding in places like New Orleans -- July has brought more than its share of severe weather.

But experts say that's likely to bring something else: scammers looking to make a quick buck. In particular, they can try to prey on people who only want to help others find relief.

"There are too many people that are trying to take advantage of good-hearted people who just simply want to help," says consumer watchdog Adam Levin. "And there is no better time for these bad guys to operate than during hurricane season, flood season and the like."

Before you give to charity, it's a good idea to do a little research. Make sure the charity's website ends in ".org," not ".com" or ".net."

You can check websites like Charity Navigator, or call your state Division of Consumer Affairs. Find out what percentage of donations go to administrative expenses -- most experts agree it should be no more than a third.

And when you're giving to help storm victims or anyone else, Levin warns to watch out for "sound-alike" charities that may sound familiar to you.

"Sometimes they will take a well-known charity and simply change a word in the name of the charity. And you think you're giving to the legitimate organization, but you're not," he says.

 

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