FBI warns of local scams post winter storm

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HOUSTON (CW39) The FBI Houston office is warning residents of potential repair scams now that the winter storm has passed.

FBI officials say, charity fraud schemes seek donations for organizations that do little or no work—instead, the money goes to the fake charity’s creator.  

Charity fraud scams can come to you in many forms: emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms, cold calls, etc. Always use caution and do your research when you’re looking to donate to charitable causes, according to the FBI Houston office.

The FBI is offering tips to Protect Yourself  from scammers:   

▪ Never let anyone rush you into donating. Pressuring you to act right away is something scammers do.  

▪ Give to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust. Don’t assume the charity you have seen on social media or online is legitimate, even it if was sent to you by a friend.  

▪ Be aware of organizations with copycat names or names similar to reputable organizations.  

▪ Be wary of new organizations that claim to aid victims of recent high-profile disasters.  

▪ Do your research. Use the Federal Trade Commission’s resources (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams) to examine the track record of a charity.  

▪ Give using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it’s probably a scam.  

▪ Practice good cyber hygiene:  

▪ Don’t click links or open email/text attachments from someone you don’t know.  

▪ Manually type out links instead of clicking on them.  

▪ Don’t provide any personal information in response to an email, robocall, or robotext.  

▪ Check the website’s address—most legitimate charity organization websites use .org, not .com.  

If you suspect you’ve been victimized or have information about these types of schemes, you can:  

▪ Contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraud.  

▪ Report fraud to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.   

▪ Report online fraud to the FBI’s (IC3) Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.  

▪ File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov   

Resources:  

▪ https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/charity-and-disaster-fraud   

▪ https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams    ▪ https://www.consumidor.ftc.gov/destacado/como-donar-sabiamente-y-evitar-estafas-de-caridad

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