Don’t be fooled by Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Scams

In the aftermath of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey, we see both the good and the bad of humanity.  We’ve heard stories of stores opening as shelters, civilians using their boats and reporters stopping during a live shot to lead rescuers to a trucker that was stuck in his cab!  Unfortunately, we’ve also heard stories of looting and theft.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Red Cross and several other organizations have set up funds to help those affected by the storm.  Unfortunately, some cybercriminals have also become involved.  They are attempting to take advantage of those who are trying to help the victims.
Here are some helpful tips on how to help victims of Hurricane Harvey as well as how to protect yourself:

  • Verify the Charity. If you are unsure if the organization is real, research them.  A good place to start is Charity Navigator, which will tell you whether the organization is legitimate and how they use the funds they receive through donation (% donated vs % used for admin tasks).
  • Email Address. Pay careful attention to the address of the sender.  Cybercriminals go to great lengths to disguise their email – they often put a genuine company’s name before the “@” sign to increase credibility.  Double-check these emails to ensure they are the same as the web address.
  • Links. Double check the link before clicking on it.  Hover your cursor over the link to view the underlying address. Check to see where it would take you if you were to click on the link.

To assist in what qualifies as a legitimate organization, we have highlighted a few.  This is not a list of every legitimate organization collecting for hurricane relief, but they are likely the main ones to be impersonated.

  • The Salvation Army: To donate visit or call 1-800-725-2769.
  • Apple. Go to iTunes or the App store and you will see a link to donate to Harvey’s relief fund.  All donations will go to the American Red Cross
  • American Red Cross.  To donate visit, call 1- 800-RED CROSS or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.  This was established by Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner to help his citizens with recovery efforts.
  • United Way. Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund

It’s important to help others as long as you are protecting yourself at the same time.