On March 3, 2020, a tornado struck near Nashville, Tennessee and became one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the state in nearly a decade. Twenty-four people died that morning, and at the time of publication, 17 remain missing.
To help the city heal, thousands have taken to social media to garner donations for victims. But whenever there is an opportunity for charity, scumbags and scammers will inevitably crawl out of the woodwork. Tap or click to see how the Notre Dame fire generated similar scams.
If you’re looking to help the victims of the Nashville tornado but want to avoid scammers, there’re a couple of key factors to keep in mind. We’ll show you the red flags to be aware of when choosing a charity, as well as how you can keep up with the latest alerts from disaster authorities.
Following the disaster, Nashville authorities worked tirelessly to get ahead of relief efforts before scammers have a chance to dupe anyone into supporting fraudulent charities.
According to a new brochure published by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, there is an increased risk of scams and fraud during times of disaster. As a result, it’s advising people to keep an eye out for several red flags.
When dealing with relief efforts, the brochure advises checking credentials above all. If someone claims to be a relief worker, government agent or charity manager, you should look their organization up to make sure their claims are real; otherwise, you may fall victim to a canny con artist.
Another red flag to be aware of is organizations with similar names to famous government agencies and international charities. As an example, if you see a relief fund for children victims sponsored by UNICEP, it’s probably a fake. UNICEF is the name of the real charity.
Readers are also advised to be wary of limited time offers, which put pressure on you to donate or sign up immediately. This can make it so you don’t have a chance to think things over or research whether the source is legitimate.
Some of the most popular schemes right now come in the form of short-term lodging rentals in the disaster area. Many victims were left homeless, so predatory lodging scams make it easy for criminals to rip off these unfortunate people in their time of need.
To stay informed after a disaster, make sure you’re only following official and reliable news sources. Fake news is enough of an epidemic already, and the confusion caused by natural disasters only helps its spread.
To help keep people from following fake news, Google enabled SOS alerts for the Nashville area. Now locals can easily follow along with the latest reliable news and updates affecting their community.
How can I safely help the people of Nashville?
If you’re looking to donate to victims, starting with verified charities and relief agencies is the best route. These organizations have been vetted for legitimacy and will actually put your money, time and donations to good use:
- Donate Items: If you’re local and want to donate items, you can find the Nashville Emergency Operations Center hotline at 615-291-6688 . No clothing, please.
- Volunteer in Nashville: Hands On Nashville is currently recruiting volunteers to help out in the area.
- American Red Cross: The Nashville chapter of the famed organization is always looking for more volunteers.
- GoFundMe: Many victims and organizations are directly funding relief efforts on the crowdfunding platform. It’s one of the easiest ways to make an impact directly.
Even if it’s just a small amount of money or time, your goodwill can go a long way. Our thoughts are with the people of Nashville during this difficult time. Please follow up with one of these trusted organizations if you can.