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The SE Texas Record Sep. 4, 2008, 1:54pm

BBB and FBI Warn of Relief Scams Following Gustav

In the aftermath of disasters, relief agencies appeal to citizens for monetary donations to aid those in devastated areas. But the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also appealing to citizens to beware of scams from fraudulent groups that seek only to make a profit for themselves.

"Recent history, including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan; the tsunamis in Asia; and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has shown that some criminals seek to profit from disaster by means of fraud," a Sept. 3 press release from the BBB of Southeast Texas states. "The BBB and the FBI ask that individuals beware of e-mails claiming to seek donations for Hurricane Gustav relief efforts."

The BBB makes the following suggestions to protect citizens:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to recognized organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and expose you to identity theft.

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