How to avoid be­ing scammed by peo­ple ask­ing for money.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - md­wil­son@statesman.com Con­tact Mark Wil­son at 512-445-3636.

As or­ga­ni­za­tions scram­ble for do­na­tions to help vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, scam­mers and fraud­sters are ready to cap­i­tal­ize.

The U.S. Com­puter Emer- gency Readi­ness Team, a divi

sion of the Home­land Secu- rity Depart­ment, is­sued a state­ment on Mon­day warn- ing peo­ple to be on the look- out for on­line phish­ing scams re­lated to Har­vey.

“Users are ad­vised to exer- cise cau­tion in han­dling any email with sub­ject line, at­tach­ments, or hy­per­links re­lated to Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, even if it ap­pears to orig­i­nate from a trusted source,” the state­ment said.

“Fraud­u­lent emails will of­ten con­tain links or at­tach- ments that di­rect users to phish­ing or mal­ware-in­fected web­sites,” the agency said. “Emails re­quest­ing dona- tions from du­plic­i­tous char- itable or­ga­ni­za­tions com- monly ap­pear af­ter ma­jor nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.”

Some scam­mers try to steal data, but oth­ers are look­ing for cash.

The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion rec­om­mends do­nat­ing to char­i­ties you know and trust, and to avoid those that seem to have sprung up overnight re­lated to cur­rent events.

If giv­ing specif­i­cally for Har­vey vic­tims, des­ig­nate the dis­as­ter to make sure funds go to the right place,

and never as­sume char­ity mes­sages posted on so­cial me­dia are le­git­i­mate.

The FTC says donors should avoid an or­ga­ni­za­tion that does any of the fol­low­ing:

■ Re­fuses to pro­vide de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about its iden­tity, mis­sion, costs, and how the do­na­tion will be used.

■Won’t pro­vide proof that a con­tri­bu­tion is tax-de­ductible.

■ Uses a name that closely re­sem­bles that of a bet- ter-known, rep­utable or­ga­ni­za­tion.

■ Thanks you for a pledge you don’t re­mem­ber mak­ing.

■ Uses high-pres­sure tac­tics, like try­ing to get you to do­nate im­me­di­ately, without giv­ing you time to think about it and do your re­search.

■ Asks for do­na­tions in cash or asks you to wire money.

■ Of­fers to send a courier or overnight de­liv­ery ser­vice to col­lect the do­na­tion im­me­di­ately.

■ Guar­an­tees sweep­stakes win­nings in ex­change for a con­tri­bu­tion. By law, you never have to give a do­na­tion to be el­i­gi­ble to win a sweep­stakes.

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