We were shocked to learn from the former director of the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud that as soon as the National Weather Service releases storm names for the coming season that people start registering domain names associated with pending storms in order to set up scams. Walt Green, who now practices cybercrime law, goes on to say that these people do the same for any type of disaster, whether it be earthquakes, fires, flooding, or tornadoes.
While we in Ohio are not largely affected by the most ravaging hurricane season in recent memory, we remain part of the American framework of business and family. We are or know good-hearted people (many of whom are seniors) who are kind-hearted and more than willing to help fellow Americans suffering in the hardest hit areas of the Florida Keys, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and now Puerto Rico.
These scams come via email, on websites, social media, and even through the mail. As our senior population spends more and more time online, it’s imperative that their adult children and family members warn them of potential scams.
Tips to avoid disaster giving scams
Be wary of email attachments that claim they are links to charitable organizations as these could contain malware or ransomware that will leave a computer inoperable until money is paid for the scammer to fix it.
Check the actual email address of the person sending it. The name that shows may be different that the underlying name. Depending on the email client and computer platform used, the verification process varies, so check a reliable website like online-tech-tips.com to learn how.
The Department of Justice wants to know if you see a scam. They will track them down and work to shut them down. Report even a suspicious attempt at disaster scamming to the Department of Justice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We must not let these scammers scare us from providing help to those who need it so badly.