HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A week later and the death toll in the Philippines continues to rise following Typhoon Haiyan. In the wake of such a huge disaster, everyone wants to lend a helping hand, but it’s important to note when a disaster hits, scams are not too far behind.
According to the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, there are ways to make sure you aren’t deceived, and your dollars don’t go to waste. “We have a very giving community and it’s not surprising to know that in the wake of the typhoon, there’s going to be some scams out there,” said Michele Mason, president of the BBB of North Alabama.
Mason said the best thing you can do is to be smart with your donations. “Do your homework, check out charities, be familiar with the fact that many of them sound alike so know who you’re talking about, where they are located, and how your money is going to be used.”
Organizations like the American Red Cross are legitimate charities that already have infrastructure set up to help people quickly. “People have great intentions but if you haven’t already been set up to do this, it’s not really going to help people who need help now,” said Mason.
The BBB said “emergency emails” are starting to become popular. That’s basically where someone sends a spam email claiming that they are in an emergency and they need you to send money, with a promise that they will repay you. Mason said there is already one circulating from someone pretending to be a typhoon victim.
“We’re encouraging people to be careful about someone that initiates contact by email or social media unless you’ve had a chance to check them out,” she said. “Most honorable charities and those that are busy helping the victims aren’t going to be deploying this type of approach.”
She said do not be fooled, even if you recognize the email address. “Sometimes someone can hack into a friends email account and send a message out to their affiliates so you could get a message from someone you know.”
If you aren’t sure if its legit, contact the person you think may have sent the email. “If they really need help, a couple of minutes doing some homework isn’t going to change the situation.”
For a list of the BBB recommended organizations that you can use to donate to Typhoon Haiyan victims, click here.