Mississippi Secretary of State on how to avoid hurricane charity scams

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – As storms batter the Gulf Coast and upending lives, people may want to give their hard-earned money to help the victims. Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson offered some tips for neighbors in order to avoid being scammed.

“It never fails that Mississippians always rise to the occasion to help our neighbors.”

Mississippians gave $1.7 billion dollars to charity in 2019, but all that giving has scammers looking for ways to take their cut.

“If you’re getting on Google or your computer, search the organization that you choose and include the term scam or something to see if some news will pop up about it. Also if it’s something like hurricane relief you’re looking at, for instance, those who are undergoing hurricane damage right now to our east, type in ‘hurricane damage’ then ‘best-rated charities,'” said Watson.

The Secretary of State said neighbors can use the his website to find charities. If you end up getting scammed, Watson said there are ways to report it.

“The number one thing that we can do, obviously, is to get background information, do an investigation, turn it over for prosecution to the local district attorney or the Attorney General’s office. But most importantly, you’re going to help someone else from going through the same situation. So you can bring attention to something that could be a scam going around the state.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, people reported losing more than $667 million to imposters, who often pretended to be calling from the government or a well-known business, a romantic interest, or a family member with an emergency. When people lost money, they most frequently reported paying scammers with a gift card.

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