Experts: Beware of scammers posing as charities following hurricane

Experts are urging the public to research charities before donating money to victims of Hurricane Matthew to avoid scammers.

The hurricane struck Haiti on Tuesday and is expected to strike Florida and other parts of the east coast Friday.

People in the U.S. have already begun to give money to relief efforts. Some people use natural disasters to steal money through fake websites, said Sheri Sword,Vice President of Communications with the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

“Anyone can go copy pictures and logos from a legitimate organization and start taking donations,” Sword said.

The fake charities may use the names of legitimate organizations or names that are similar. The BBB said you should avoid opening emails asking for your credit card information to make a donation.

“You should ask for their phone number, website and address,” Sword said.

The BBB said the best way to protect yourself is to donate to organizations you know have handled natural disasters in the past.

The most important thing to remember is that you have time to thoroughly research the charity before you make a donation. If they pressure you to give in a short time frame, they likely are not legitimate.

“A real charity will take your donation just as much tomorrow as they will today,” Sword said. “The problem that this hurricane has caused is not going to be over in one day.”

The American Red Cross Dayton Chapter plans to send up to 24 people to Haiti as part of the relief effort.

“We have pre-positioned a lot of aid in the ways of blankets, sanitary water and clean up kits,” said Laura Seyfang, Dayton Area Red Cross Executive Director.