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Odious opportunists


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Scammers know no bounds when it comes to exploiting horrific events. Last month it was widespread hurricane destruction; this month, the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The tragedy sadly but predictably brought scammers out from under their rocks. A throng of bogus GoFundMe and other crowdsourcing pages sprung up in its wake (as did a number of fake charities), leading attorneys general in multiple states to issue warnings. (Pro tip: GoFundMe is vetting legitimate pages to support Vegas victims and listing them on its site.) It’s not just online operations defrauding the compassionate—be wary of “fundraising” attempts by phone as well. If a telemarketer calls claiming to be with firefighters or the police, for instance, let the caller know you’ll call the department back directly (and don’t give any personal or financial info to the solicitors). And if you get a text prompting you to donate (the American Red Cross is known to use this outreach tactic), make sure that it’s really the organization you want to help by verifying its number. In summary: Always double check by directly contacting the organization you’re interested in donating to. And be careful: Even a trusted organization’s website can be mimicked by slightly altering the URL (for instance, reddcross(dot)org with two “d”s—see how easy that was?). If you’re worried about the website, there are many ways to confirm that a charity is real, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) points out. But what if a shameless charlatan hascontacted you? If you think they’re operating locally, let your state attorney general know. If the operation’s even bigger (read: national), let the FTC know.


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