Avoid a Second Wave of Disaster—Spot Hurricane Scammers

When millions of people are vulnerable, it's unfortunately also prime time for scamming.

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When a disaster hits, people spring into action. As with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the tsunami in Japan, efforts to help victims of this weekend’s Hurricane Harvey began almost immediately.

But one dangerous side effect of the disaster hasn’t even begun yet — the invasion of the scammers looking to prey upon vulnerable people. When millions of people are hit by tragedy, it’s unfortunately also prime time for scamming. For example this Staten Island man who post-hurricane Sandy impersonated a Red Cross worker in an attempt to burglarize homes.

From faux housing listings to fake charities to home-repair scams, Consumerist offers these ways to spot a post-storm scammer.

Among scams you might not immediately think of: Malware. Hackers can hide malware in fake news stories or phony videos to steal your personal information or compromise your computer. Avoid video/photo links that promise “shocking disaster video,” especially if you’re prompted to download additional software to view them.

And if you’re looking for a way to lend a hand, check out this Huffington Post list of ways to help, with addresses for reputable charitable organizations, food banks, and volunteer opportunities.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest