Scam alert: ‘charities’ asking for Hurricane Dorian donations

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A story we have heard time and time again: scammers targeting people in the NBC15 News viewing area. The latest trend in scamming: pulling at our emotions.

As NBC15 first reported, scammers have been asking for “donations” for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, or DAIS, a free organization. Now they are taking it a step farther.

“There's a lot of information out there about our identities,” says Tiffany Schultz, southwest Wisconsin regional director with the Better Business Bureau.

Schultz says scammers are smart: they know our birthdays, email addresses and phone numbers.

They are now are using that information and manipulating scams to keep up with current events, like fallout from Hurricane Dorian.

“A lot of pop up scam charities happen after a crisis,” says Lara Sutherlin, division administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “They take advantage of peoples' heartstrings, pulling on their heartstrings and wanting to give money to people in need, and they use that in their advantage."

That means scammers could be targeting you, asking to help with relief from Hurricane Dorian.

Experts say make sure you are the one who starts the conversation, and verify the charity is real before donating.

“We always want to give with our heart, but we encourage you to also give with your head,” Schultz says.

Another scam in the NBC15 viewing area: deals that seem too good to be true, like offering quick building repairs that can be done right away.

“During this time of year, transient workers who come around during flooding and other natural disasters. They go into communities and they offer to help do blacktop of their driveways or re-roofing, things of that nature after a storm comes through,” Sutherlin says.

If all this seems familiar, it is likely because scams are ever-evolving and constantly targeting consumers.

“You do constantly need to be on the lookout,” Sutherlin says. “I don't want to generate a lot of paranoia, but being safe in the financial, technological economy requires attention to what you're doing."

If you think you may be a victim of a scam, report it right away.