Dear UNCG Community,
As people across the Carolinas start the process of recovering from Hurricane Florence, we want to remind everyone to be cautious when contributing financially to disaster relief agencies, and to protect yourselves from the financial scams that typically follow these types of events.
Anyone seeking to help aid in the recovery by contributing financially to disaster relief efforts should ensure that their donations are made only to valid and reputable organizations using well-known websites, apps and payment methods. Fortunately for those in need, there are many valid and trustworthy organizations seeking to help people and areas affected by the storm. Unfortunately, there are also people who seek to profit and take advantage of anyone willing to help, and caution is required in order to protect yourself from hackers and malicious scams.
Observations following past adverse weather events and natural disasters have shown a marked increase in malicious scams designed to defraud contributors, steal financial information, and infect users with malicious software and computer viruses after a disaster like Hurricane Florence. We want to caution the UNCG community to be wary of these scams, and provide resources to help you contribute to valid agencies.
The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) warned in an advisory on Friday that arrival of Hurricane Florence is expected to “propel the emergence of new and recycled scams involving financial fraud and malware.” Likewise, North Carolina’s Department of Information Technology has also warned computer users of phishing expeditions tied to the disaster, as has the Department of Homeland Security’s threat-sharing center.
Email and website phishing and other financial scams associated with special events like named hurricanes are often very successful because they prey on people’s altruistic desire to help others which is naturally elevated after a disaster event. Given that hurricanes are one-time events with unique names such as “Florence,” people may expect new websites to be created for them. Users should be cautious about where and how money is sent, and contribute only to well known disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, United Way and Samaritan’s Purse using well-known methods.
If you are searching for where and how to contribute, local news outlets have provided lists of valid disaster relief agencies and resources:
cle/news/nation-world/how-to- help-those-impacted-by-florenc e/507-594238915
Here are some additional things you can do to help protect yourself and donate wisely:
- Be cautious of any online fundraising efforts that are not associated with well-known disaster relief agencies.
- Do not click links in emails offering to help you donate money to hurricane victims.
- Be suspicious of unexpected social media pleas, phone calls, text messages, donation websites, and/or door-to-door solicitations claiming to raise funds for hurricane victims.
- Check the validity of charities before you donate using the BBB National Charity Report Index
- Heed the advice of the Federal Trade Commission when it comes to Wise Giving After a Hurricane and How to Donate Wisely and Avoid Charity Scams.
- Contact 6-TECH at 336-256-TECH (8324), 6-TECH@uncg.edu, or https://6tech.uncg.edu for help with any emails or websites you feel may be malicious.
Please protect yourself and your financial information throughout the recovery effort to ensure that aid arrives where it is needed most.