It appears that we may not see the expected impact from Hurricane Florence (thankfully), but we do want to take this opportunity to bring some important information to you.
Following nearly every natural disaster, we see an upswing in frauds, so we want to make sure to remind everyone to be vigilant for unsolicited contacts over the Internet or phone. Common scams involve contacts from charities that are seeking money for disaster victims. Please make sure that you:
- Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record of dealing with disasters.
- Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events.
- Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
Here are some guidelines to help those interested in giving to avoid scammers:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organizations or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
- Beware of organizations with copycat names that are similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
- Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Open attachments only from known senders.
- Check to ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes. Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Do not be pressured into contributing; reputable charities do not use such tactics.
- Be aware of whom you are dealing with when providing your personal and financial information. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
- Avoid cash donations, if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
- Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charities’ websites end in .org rather than .com.
If you think that someone attempting to defraud you has contacted you, make sure to report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, at 866-720-5721. This center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally you may contact the Sheriff’s Office to report these as well.
As always, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Before you give your money, please research the group you are planning to give to.
Additionally, we would like to remind everyone of our Emergency Notification System, Alert Bedford. This program enables public safety to make mass notifications to the public in the event of an emergency. This has been used numerous times over the years when we are conducting operations where the public’s assistance or their safety is paramount, such as missing persons or searching for wanted individuals. However, this system only works with listed or registered phone numbers. If you have an unlisted phone, or would like to add your cell phone to our list of contact numbers with this system, you can do it HERE.