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Alert: Hurricane Harvey scams spreading

Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters are devastating to everyone in their path. The more forceful the storm, the greater chance there is for loss of life. And there’s always financial losses with the destruction of property. “Share” this important alert with your family and friends so they don’t get taken

As you know, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coastline on Friday, August 25. It’s the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004. Damage is already extensive and more is expected to come. Good people everywhere are stepping up to lend a hand and make some much-needed donations. However, you really need to be careful and make sure you’re not donating to scammers.

Spreading Hurricane Harvey scams

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, some areas have been hit with more than 20 inches of rain. It’s expected to continue for the next few days and could drop an additional 15 to 25 inches. That means some areas could see as much as 50 inches of rain total.

As you can probably imagine, it’s leaving a path of destruction that will take time and money to clean up. Sadly, scammers are out in full force trying to rip off the good people trying to help.

1. Facebook posts targeting victims

There already is a scam targeting victims of this hurricane spreading on social media. The scam post reads, “The National Guard is being deployed to our Texas area. If you find yourself in a state of emergency. Call 1-800-517-39**. Please copy, paste or share!!!!!!” If you see this post do

“The National Guard is being deployed to our Texas area. If you find yourself in a state of emergency. Call 1-800-517-39**. Please copy, paste or share!!!!!!”

If you see this post do NOT share it! The number does not belong to the National Guard, it’s actually an insurance group. If you are in danger you need to call 911.

2. Fake Facebook and Go FundMe Donations

Imagine knowing someone in the path of the storm. You’d be more than willing to reach out and lend them a hand. Unfortunately, scammers try and take advantage of the goodness of people by setting up fake Facebook pages and bogus Go FundMe accounts trying to reel in victims.

They typically will use actual disaster photos from the storm to make them look official. You’ll see emotional pleas from hurricane victims that are not try. Don’t fall for them.

3. Scammers cloning Facebook accounts

Cybercriminals will clone Facebook user accounts to ask their friends for money. If you see this from one of your friends, never click a link through Facebook or social media to send them money.

Take the time to personally call them to verify that it’s actually them. Yes, make a phone call.

4. Phishing emails

This is an extremely popular technique for cybercriminals. You will most likely see phishing emails claiming to be from pet shelters, a church or another organization trying to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims.

Make sure you know how to recognize a phishing scam. Click here to take our phishing IQ test.

5. Like-farming on Facebook

There are also like-farming scams making the rounds on Facebook. These include photo-shopped images trying to lure users to liking and sharing them. Like-farming is just what it sounds like. Scammers post a story on Facebook for the purpose of cultivating likes and shares.

Based on the way Facebook works, the more likes and shares a post has, the more likely it is to show up in people’s News Feeds. This gives the scammer more viewers for posts that trick people out of information or send them to malicious downloads.

The story they originally post normally has nothing dangerous about it. Only after the post gets a certain number of likes and shares does the scammer edit it and add something malicious.

Know where to donate

The best way to ensure your donation actually goes where you intend is to go through a trusted source. Click here to see a list of charities that have been vetted by Charity Navigator. You can trust the list provided there and I highly recommend donating whatever you can.

More stories you can’t miss:

Test: Can you spot a fake viral video?

New government tool to stop annoying robocalls

Why you should NEVER throw away or post pictures of your airline boarding pass

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