Officials urge caution in giving to charities after Sandy

Many residents of Breezy Point in Queens lost their homes in fires caused by the storm.

Government and watchdog groups are warning those New Yorkers itching to help with Hurricane Sandy relief to be careful when they decide how and where to give.

The U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of New York Office, which covers Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, told Metro they “want to give people a heads up so the public is aware that there are people out there who are going to try to pull off scams and frauds.”

These schemes can be common in the aftermath of natural disasters.

“We didn’t have a lot happening after Irene that we noticed, but there was a huge amount of activity after 9/11,” Luana Lewis at the Better Business Bureau told Metro, noting that it’s common for new organizations to be founded after major crises, “usually to address needs that folks feel aren’t being addressed swiftly enough in their community.”

The state Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District Office and the Better Business Bureau all told Metro they have not yet received any complaints of attempted scams.

“We don’t know of any specifics at this point, but we hope to have compiled a list later this week,” reported Michelle Hook at the Attorney General’s Office.

Department of Justice officials warned the public to use caution in clicking links or opening images in emails that could contain viruses, and advised that “most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.”

Scambook, an online company that helps victims of fraud, also has tips for people who are compelled to help Sandy victims.

Scambook’s Miranda Perry said one key sign an organization might be a scam is if they don’t have a website or if the website is poorly constructed with improper grammar.

“Any time you’re directly solicited is one of the big red flags,” Scambook’s Director of Marketing, Kase Chong said. “If someone does contact you, the best way to tell is to hang up and call back and see if you get someone on the phone.”

Chong suggested the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, an organization started by Governor Chris Christie’s wife, Mary Pat Christie.

“If it has ties to the government, at least you know it’s legitimate,” Chong said.

How to spot a scam

- Do your research: Scambook and the Better Business Bureau both cull information on thousands of charities. They also recommend sites like ny.give.org and charitynavigator.org.

- Avoid cash donations, and don’t give personal or financial information to individuals soliciting contributions. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity.

- Ask a lot of questions. “If they can’t tell you about the organization, that’s a red flag,” Scambook’s Miranda Perry advised.

- Don’t be pressured into making quick donations: “Reputable charities do not use coercive tactics,” officials from the Department of Justice said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…