January Scam Wrap-Up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in January. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

This month there were 17 scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $6,100 lost.

Utility Scam

An Anchorage resident reported someone impersonated Municipal Light and Power in order to steal $300 from them. They claim they received a call from someone saying they needed to pay their electricity bill or they would be disconnected. The caller told them someone would be by their home in a few hours to disconnect the power if they didn’t pay up over the phone. After getting off the phone with the person the victim called back to say they were not with that utility company. The person on the other end of the phone preceded to pretend to be someone else. The Anchorage resident ceased communication.

Online Purchase Scam

An Anchorage man reported he lost $4,650 when he tried to purchase a Cockatoo for $1,400. The man claimed he was told to use United Pet Express to ship the bird. When he contacted the shipping company they informed him he needed to make a $2,400 deposit to cover any issues with delivery, which he did. Before the bird was shipped he was told he needed to pay $750 to cover the birds’ shots. Finally, he received a message from the “delivery man” stating he needed another $690 to drop off the bird and the refund. The man refused the pay any more money, and never received the bird.

OREGON

This month there were 83 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $2,860 lost.

Counterfeit product

A Medford woman reports she lost $429 after she ordered two hoverboards from a California company for Christmas. The woman reports one of the hoverboards did not work. She called the company, but got a message stating the voicemail box was full. She emailed the company three times and got a response from customer service asking what was wrong with the machine. After explaining her problem, she never received a response. Her order did not come with a return address and repeated attempts to contact the company have not been answered.

Rental Home scam

A Gresham woman reported she lost $400 in a rental home scam. The woman reports she found a Craigslist ad for a rental house in Portland. The landlord said they lived in New York and requested she send a deposit via MoneyGram to his personal assistant and then he would send the keys. The women sent $400, but never received the keys.

IDAHO

This month there were 106 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Idaho with an estimated $17,775 lost.

Facebook friend scam

A Caldwell man reported a fake Facebook friend tried to con him out of thousands of dollars. The man states he received a message on Facebook from who appeared to be an old friend of his. The friend said he had won $150,000 through a Facebook contest and the Caldwell man was also listed as a winner. He was told to send a message to “Agent Terry Williams” with “Non-Governmental Organization.” The man did this and was told by the “agent” that in order to receive his funds he would need to pay up. The man states: “He then sent me a list of amounts I could claim as my winnings starting at $100,000 and going up to $600,000. The catch here is that you pay $1,050 to claim $100,00, up to $10,500 to claim $600,000.” He was also told he needed to keep the contest a secret. The man became suspicious and reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

Tax Collection scam

A Boise man reported he received an automated voice message claiming to be the IRS and he had a lawsuit and federal arrest warrant issued against him. He was told to call a number immediately. The man knew he did not have any legal action against him and did not call the number. He then reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

MONTANA

This month there were 14 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Montana with an estimated $300 lost.

Passport service scheme

A Manhattan woman reported she lost $178 when she tried to expedite the passport process for her five-year-old. The woman used an online service that told her they could help rush the process on obtaining a passport for her child. However, after paying the fee she contacted the National Passport Information Center and was informed the child had to be present at the office in order to obtain a passport and the information she was receiving from the business was not accurate.

Online Windows Support scam

A Deer Lodge woman reported she was almost victim of a tech scam. The woman reports she was working on her computer when she received a notice with a Microsoft logo telling her she had a virus and to call 877-767-7342. The woman called the number and spoke to man named “Bruno Williams.” He asked to do a diagnostic test to her computer remotely. The woman became suspicious and hung up on the man.

WASHINGTON

This month there were 200 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Washington with an estimated $9,600 lost.

Online pet purchase scam

A Spanaway woman reported she lost $505 in a pet purchase scam. The woman reports she purchased a puppy from http://www.modestshihtzu.com via MoneyGram. The woman states once the seller received the money they requested additional funds to transport the dog in a special crate. When she refused, the seller told her they would deliver a dead puppy at her doorstep. The woman ceased speaking with the seller, but have received threatening emails from them.

Pierce County Sheriff Imposter Scam

A Buckley woman reports she received a call from someone claiming to be with the Pierce County Sheriff. The woman reports she received a call from a “Lt. Parker” who told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest for failure to appear for a civil duty court in December. She became suspicious when the caller told her she needed to purchase $1,975 in MoneyPak cards and to call the “Sheriff’s Treasurer” to give them the confirmation numbers so she wouldn’t be arrested when she went to the sheriff’s office to sign some paperwork. The woman contacted her local police department and confirmed the call was a scam.

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BBB Infographic: Top Five Small Business Scams

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November Scam Wrap-Up

Top Scams 2015

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in November. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

This month there were seven scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $354 lost.

Online Purchase

A woman in Anchorage reported she lost $354 after a charge from an unknown company was made to her debit account. The woman states she received the charge from Prince Bags. She called the number associated with the charge, but was unable to speak with a real person. She reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

BOA Spoof

A woman in Anchorage reported she received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Bank of America. The caller spoofed the BOA number convincing the woman it was a legitimate call. The caller told the woman her account was going to be cancelled. The woman does not have a BOA account, but called the number back to get more information. Once the caller realized the woman did not have a BOA account they hung up on her and her number was blocked.

OREGON

This month there were 27 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $700 lost.

Rental Scam

A woman in Portland reported she lost $24.99 in a Craigslist Rental scam. The woman reports she found an apartment listing on Craigslist about a property she was familiar with. She contacted the renter and was told to pay for a credit report at creditupdates.com. The woman never heard back from the renter and when she saw the ad again she inquired with a different email and received the exact same response and was told to conduct the credit report.

Direct TV Spoof

A woman in Portland reported she received a phone call from someone claiming to be from DirectTV. The caller spoofed the DirectTV number which convinced her that it was a legitimate call. The caller told the woman she was at risk of losing service. When the woman asked for a number she could call to confirm he was with DirectTV the caller became angry with her. The woman hung up and then confirmed with DirectTV that the call was fraudulent.

IDAHO

This month there were 36 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Idaho with an estimated $13,500 lost.

Online purchase

A woman in Post Falls reported she lost $190 after she ordered a face cream from an online company that advertised it as a “free offer” after the buyer covers the shipping fees. The woman reports she had an allergic reaction to the cream and was still charged $175 on top of the shipping fees. She tried contacting customer service, but reports the company refused to refund her money.

Government Grant

A woman in Shoshone reported she lost $350 in a Government Grant scam. She reported she was told by a man she was the recipient of a $700 grant. She was told to purchase an iTunes gift card for $350 and call him back with the card number. After she did that she was told to send an additional $700. The woman ceased contact and reported the incident to BBB.

MONTANA

This month there were six scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Montana with an estimated $850 lost.

Fake Invoice

A woman in Bozeman reported her company received a fake invoice for $487.60 from Global Business Systems. The woman reports the “company” billed her for toner. She states her company does not deal with this business and ignored the letter. She reported to BBB that the company is threatening to send them to collections.

Tech Support

A woman in Livingston reported she lost $99 to a fake tech support scam. While on her computer she received a pop-up claiming to be from Microsoft warning her that her PC had a virus. She was given a phone number to call to have it removed. The woman called the number and gave the “customer representative” her credit card information and approved a charge of $99 to have the virus removed. Unfortunately, this type of scam is common.

WASHINGTON

This month there were 52 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Washington with an estimated $31,600 lost.

Online Purchase

A woman in Mount Vernon reported she lost $75 when she attempted to purchase an item from Sweet Paula’s Pods. The woman reports she purchased the items from http://www.sweetpaulaspods.com. A few days later she emailed the company asking for shipping information. When she never heard back from the company the woman looked up the business online and discovered there were other customers with similar problems concerning the business.

Sportswear Scam

A woman in Orting reported she lost $51.98 to an online sportswear store. The woman reports she purchased a Husky/Seahawks sports sweatshirt from www.sportsfanatic.co, but never received the product. She has an appending charge listed as “Summit View LLC” for the amount.

 

Top Five Small Business Scams

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Written by Kirstin Davis, BBB Marketplace Director

The Small Business Administration reports the percentage of self-employed seniors has been steadily on the rise since 2000. The data shows the percentage of individuals 62 years and older who were self-employed increased from 4.2 percent in 1988 to 5.4 percent in 2015. Better Business Bureau knows scammers often target seniors, so it is important senior business owners stay adept to common scams occurring to small businesses. Here are a few tips for small business owners and local nonprofit organizations who have a lot to think about and ways to avoid these common scams.

Internet & Phone

Watch out for ransomware, phishing, URL hustle and spoofing scams. Scammers play on fear, convenience and lack of technical knowledge. BBB receives complaints each year from business owners who have been scammed out of money or important business information by people who know how to speak in business terms.

Directories

A business owner or office manager may receive an invoice for a printed or online directory renewal notice. Scammers are counting on the fact that business owners have a lot on their plate and will make these notices appear legitimate, local or industry targeted. Keep a list of directories you are published in and evaluate the values of those directories on an annual basis.

Office Supplies

Business owners may receive a box of supplies as either a “gift” or with an invoice included.  Scammers are taking the opportunity to see if a busy owner will pay the invoice with no questions asked. If the “gifted” items are sent back, the business may receive a bill for a high percentage restocking fee. Another red flag is a contact describing a “going out of business” sale offering significant discounts on supply items that are misquoted or never arrive at all.

Overpayment

A scammer may over pay for the item or service and then ask for a refund to be sent by wire or cashier’s check. Most likely the form of payment was fraudulent and the scammer is trying to pocket the over payment. The business owner is then out of the product, if sent, and additional revenue.

Vanity Awards

“Best of” or “Who’s Who” in your industry are great recognition. Business owners want to be sure the award is legitimate and that it isn’t just a way to pay very high prices for plaques to display in your office.

Follow our blog for more consumer protection tips and information on BBB investigations.

Be Mindful of Scams Targeting Veterans

veterans-day-scam-blog

As families honor former military personnel on Veterans Day, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest urges consumers to remain vigilant against scammers targeting veterans.

The  Consumer Sentinel Network reports nearly 100,000 military members complained of being targeted by financial crimes in 2015, with identity theft and impostor scams topping the list. Con artists often use malevolent tactics to steal the money and identities of veterans and their families.

Better Business Bureau reminds service men and women to watch for these common military scams:

Phone Scams: Impostors pose as Veterans Administration employees and call veterans to request they update their credit card, bank or other financial records with the VA. Fraudsters use scare tactics by threatening cancelation of benefits to collect birthdates, Social Security numbers and bank account information.

Rental Listings: Cyber thieves create bogus online rental listings and lure in potential victims by offering military discounts. Victims are asked to wire deposits and first month’s rent to “landlords” who happen to be out of the country.

Military Loans: Sketchy lenders promise “instant approvals” and no credit checks, but loans often carry extremely high interest rates and hidden fees.

Insurance Policies: Solicitors make false statements or inflate claims regarding the benefits of policies they offer, using high-pressured sales pitches to sell expensive—and often unnecessary—life insurance policies.

Donors looking to give to a military-affiliated charity this Veterans Day are urged to use Wise Giving Alliance in finding a trustworthy charity.  Consumers are also advised to research businesses through bbb.org before giving out personal information, making payments or giving donations.

Since 2012, service men and women have been utilizing BBB’s Military Line, a program that provides free resources to all branches of the U.S. military, including financial literacy information, scam alerts and access to BBB services such as complaint handling and dispute resolution.

October Scam Wrap-up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in October. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Healthcare Scam

An Anchorage woman reported she was contacted about healthcare services that may have been a scam. She states she got a phone call from someone asking for her Medicaid information to see if she qualified for healthcare services. The woman believed the call to be a scam to obtain her personal information and reported the call to Scam Tracker.   

Lottery Scam

A Haines man reported he received a card in the mail stating he had an unclaimed reward worth up to $100. He was told to call a toll-free number to claim the winnings or they would be forfeited. He called the number and was told he needed to pay $4.95 over the phone with his credit card. They offered to drop the price to $2.95 since he was a senior. The man did not report whether he paid the charge, but he did report the incident to Scam Tracker.

IDAHO

Government Grant scam

An Idaho Falls man lost $2,300 in a government grant scam. The man states he was told to purchase two iTunes gift cards for $299 and $1,999 and read the numbers over the phone. The caller claimed this would release $11,800, which would be placed in his account. After doing this he was told he needed to purchase another one for $1,200. He has since quit communicating with the caller.

Jury Duty Scam

A Nampa man reported he lost $189.30 after he received a call from someone claiming there was a warrant out for his arrest for not reporting to jury duty. The man believed it to be true as he did ignore a jury duty notice. The man was told to purchase a Green Dot card at Walgreens for $189.30 and go to the Canyon County Court House. He purchased the cards and relayed the Green Dot card number to the caller. The caller told him the card did not work and he needed to go back and get another one. That is when the man realized it was not a legitimate call.

MONTANA

Medical Equipment Scam

A Belgrade Montana woman reports her mother lost $350 after she was contacted by a company selling medical alert systems. The woman states her mother paid $350 over the phone and never received the system. All calls made to the number go directly to voicemail.

Advertising Scam

A Great Falls woman reports the company HS Backers tried to sell her advertising on athletic scoreboards at local high schools. The company claimed to be representing Great Falls High School and C.M. Russell High School. The woman did not purchase advertising and later learned the company does not do business with those schools.

OREGON

Malware Scam

A Salem woman reported she lost $200 to a malware scam. She states she was using her laptop when a notice appeared on her screen advising her to call tech support. Her computer froze so she called the number. The person who answered claimed to be with JRG Ventures LLC. They told her she needed to pay $149.00 for a “one-time fix” and an additional $50 to help with any further issues.  She soon realized she downloaded malware and was tricked into paying for assistance.

Puppy Scam

A Coos Bay woman reported she lost $600 in a puppy scam. She states she purchased a St. Bernard puppy from www.maxwellsaintbernards.com. After making her payment she was told she needed to send $670 for pet insurance and travel. The company refused to refund her money and she ceased doing business with them.

WASHINGTON

Online Business Scam

A Kirkland man reported he lost $30 when an online business failed to send him his product. The company website, http://www.slumber.la, ceased communication with the man after his purchase failed to arrive.

Fake Kitten Adoption Scam

A Seattle man reported he came across a fraudulent cat adoption site. The man states the site www.kittensforadoption.us is a phishing scam posting fake numbers and cat pictures to obtain customers personal information.

August Scams Roundup

Top Scams 2015

The following are some of the scams reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in August. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Home Improvement Grant Scam

A woman in Anchorage reported her 80-year-old aunt was contacted through Facebook about applying for a home improvement grant. The woman states her aunt applied for a $30,000 grant and was told she needed to send money to cover taxes and fees. The woman sent a money order of $1,000 and then was asked to send more money. She has not been able to get her money returned to her.

Bad sale

An Anchorage man reported he purchased a sound system from someone for $300. The man claims he was shown an invoice slip and told there was a warranty with the purchase. He soon discovered the sound system was of poor quality. He has tried calling the seller, but has been unable to reach him.

IDAHO

Newspaper Scam

A Boise area woman reported she received a call from a woman asking her to renew her Idaho Statesman subscription. The woman states she was skeptical of the caller so she looked up her subscription and discovered it didn’t expire until February 2017.

Family Emergency Scam

A Nampa woman reports she was the target of the grandparent scam. She states she received a call from someone claiming to be her grandson who told her he broke his nose after a drunk driving accident. She soon received another call from the “grandsons” attorney asking for $1,750 to post bail. He told the woman to get a MoneyGram from Walmart and send it to them. The woman did so, but the money did not go through. She soon realized the call was a scam. Fortunately, she was able to get her money back from MoneyGram.

MONTANA

Craigslist Scam

A Colstrip resident reports they listed household items on Craigslist and then were contacted by a buyer who sent a check for more than the agreed upon price. They were told to purchase a MoneyGram for the extra money and give it to the “mover” who was supposed to pick up the items. Fortunately, they never cashed the check.

OREGON

Charity Scam

A Beaverton resident reports someone came to their door accepting donations for “Something for Soldiers Sales, LLC.” After giving $68, they looked closer at the receipt and discovered the organization was not a 5013c nonprofit. Law Enforcement agencies have warned residents about this group.

DISH Network Imposter

A White City woman reported she lost $50 after someone impersonated a DISH Network employee. She states a woman came to her door pretending to be selling DISH Network services. She gave the woman a check for $50 for a one-time process fee and her credit card information. After handing over the money she requested the check not be cashed until the third of the next month, however it was cashed the next day.

WASHINGTON

Sweepstakes Scam

A Richland resident reported they received a letter from Liberty Financial Incorporated claiming they had won a second prize of $250,000. The letter included a check from Chase Bank for $3,650. They tell BBB they were asked to pay a $3,500 processing fee. They did not pay the fee.

Employment Scam

A Bellevue woman reports she was contacted by a man using the name “Mark Blackwell,” asking her to be his daughters tutor. The man said he was sending her a check with more than her fee and told her to cash $2,000 of it to give to his daughter’s nanny. She ceased communication with the man.

 

5 Things You Didn’t Know About BBB

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Better Business Bureau has been serving consumers and businesses for more than 100 years. That’s more than a century of helping to advance marketplace trust. While you may be familiar with our grading system, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about BBB. So let’s take a look at some of the services and missions we work at every day.

Here are five things you didn’t know about BBB:

5 things you didn't know about BBB 2

1. We are here for servicemembers and vets. 

The BBB Military Line is a consumer education program that offers a MobileMi$$ion app, which provides resources for vets, active duty and retired military personnel. The app is designed for transitioning servicemembers, veterans, and their families to help them navigate their finances during the shift from active duty to civilian life. This app provides access to educational activities, a financial mentor, and peer chat support on the go, wherever you are.

Want to speak to someone in person? Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest is available to give presentations to military personnel on scams and identity theft, wise buying, car shopping, buying a home, investing in higher education and much more. Contact our Marketplace Development Team at marketplace@thebbb.org.

Handshake - Business deal concept

2. Request a Quote

This one is specific to Accredited Businesses only, but is important to note. Once businesses receive accreditation they can install the Request a Quote button on their BBB Business Review page so customers can quickly and easily ask for estimates, information or proposals from the business.

But wait, there’s more. If a customer is looking for a bid, but doesn’t know which company to go with, they can send requests to multiple companies. Find out more at www.bbb.org/northwest/quote.

Email Computer Key For Emailing Or Contacting

3. Serve as mediators. 

BBB has been helping resolve disputes between businesses and consumers for more than a century and whether your company is a small local firm or large national corporation, we are here to share our expertise and experience with you and your customers. A panel of approximately 1,000 professional arbitrators–predominantly attorneys–partner with the BBB system to provide arbitration hearings that are local and yet consistent with overall program mandates. The programs are developed for specific industries, including automotive, telecommunication and moving and storage. This service helps both businesses and customers save time and money when handling legal issues.

5 things you didn't know about BBB 5

4. We are looking out for our future.   

Teenagers are making economic decisions every day and with advances in technology they are doing a lot of it online. But who is educating them on how to be smart consumers? Our Marketplace Development Team visits high schools across the northwest educating our youth about identity theft, social media safety, scholarships and financial aid. They can come out to your organization and present on these topics. Locally, we host a $10,000 scholarship contest for a high school senior who personifies high ethics, as demonstrated through leadership, community service, overall personal integrity and academic accomplishments.

Scam Alert Indicates Rip Off And Advertisement

5. We investigate scams.

BBB Scam Tracker provides consumers across North America with a place to report scams and fraud and to warn others of malicious or suspicious activities. All 112 BBBs operating in Canada and the United States are collecting information from consumers and processing data, which is shared with law enforcement agencies for use in identifying and prosecuting scammers. Go to bbb.org/scamtracker to see the interactive map and see what scams are happening in your area.

This is just a fraction of the types of services BBB offers. To learn more visit bbb.org/northwest today.

July Scams Roundup

Scam Computer Key

The following are some of the scams reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in July. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

Alaska 

Sweepstakes/BBB Affiliation Scam

An Anchorage man reports he received a call from someone named “James Stewart” from American Sweepstakes. The caller wanted the Anchorage man to fill out tax documents in order to deposit the money. The caller also stated he was working with BBB. Better Business Bureau does not offer sweepstakes prizes. Fortunately, the man did not lose any money in the encounter.

Idaho 

Phishing Scam

A Nampa woman reports someone called her home claiming to be with the DISH Network. She was told the company needed to make updates to her software. The woman was prompted by the caller to reveal the last four digits of her social security number in order for them to make the updates. She was then asked to pay a $99 fee. This alerted the woman and she refused to pay the money. She reported the scam to BBB and the Attorney General’s office.

Craigslist Scam

A Boise woman reports she was nearly scammed when she tried to sell her car on Craigslist. The woman states she received an offer from someone claiming to be a Marine in Quantico, Virginia. He wanted to pay through PayPal. The woman reports his texts and email had a lot of misspellings and information he revealed about himself turned out to be untrue. Fortunately, she didn’t complete the transaction with him.

Government Grant Scam

A Nampa woman reports she was notified she had won a government grant for having good credit. She was told she’d receive $7,000, but needed to provide her city, state, zip code and age. The woman stopped speaking with the callers, but continued to receive calls from them throughout the day.

Oregon 

Home Improvement Scam

A Sherwood woman reports she lost $1,100 in a home improvement scam. The woman claims she knew the person doing work on her home and had hired them in the past. She agreed to pay half of the $2,200 cost the home repairs would need. However, she reports the workers avoided her calls and failed to show up to do the repairs.

Advanced Fee Loan Scam

A Hillsboro woman reports she was contacted by Triple Services LLC who said she had outstanding debt from 2011. She states the caller had her personal information including her social security number. The company told her it needed to collect $2,547 for a $500 loan. The Oregon woman reports the callers kept changing the amount of money owed, leading her to believe it was a scam. She reported the company to BBB.

Montana 

Fake Invoice Scam

A Bozeman woman reports she received a large order to her online store. The buyer requested the seller use a different shipping company called DXB Logistics. The Bozeman woman contacted DXB and was told to wire a payment that was higher than the original shipping fees. The seller stopped doing business with the buyer and cancelled the customer order.

Washington 

BBB Affiliation Scam

A Kent business owner reports someone called her company asking to speak with her about her financials. The woman claims the caller was insistent and harassing with her employees. She called the person back and they told her they were working with BBB. However, the caller could not answer her questions truthfully so she ended the conversation.

IRS Scam

An Issaquah woman reports someone called her claiming to be with the IRS. The caller told her there was a warrant out for her arrest for tax evasion, but it would be cleared up if she paid $2,950 in iTunes gift cards. The woman did not pay the money.

Safe Giving After a Tragedy

Written by Veronica Craker, Managing Editor

Giving after a tragedy 8.3.16

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 I found myself watching the news and wondering how I could help. I lived in Biloxi, Mississippi for a short time and still had friends living in the area when the Category Five storm ripped through destroying everything in its path. While watching the news unfold I wondered how I could make a difference. So I opened my wallet and made a small donation to the Red Cross. Prior to that I hadn’t done more than slip extra change into charity buckets sitting next to cash registers or in the red kettles belonging to the Salvation Army during Christmas. With recent tragedies taking place around the world more people than ever are trying to find ways to make a difference. A recent BBB Scam Tracker survey found that one in five people lose money to a scam each year with annual losses estimated at $50 billion.

When a crisis hits, and especially when it hits close to home, we can’t help but feel compelled to do something. Whether its donating blood, giving money or volunteering it’s important to know the most effective way to help out after a tragedy.

In the past year BBB Scam Tracker has seen nearly 200 reports of charity scams in the U.S. and Canada.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest and BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to keep in mind when looking to contribute:

Avoid high-pressure demands. Take time to research charities and avoid emotional pleas that do little to explain how the charity will help victims. Contact potential charities directly.

Use trustworthy charities. Be sure the charity is equipped and has the resources necessary to help with disaster relief. Review whether a charity meets all 20 standards of accountability at Give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Avoid cash donations. Write checks or pay by credit card to charities directly. Scammers will try to convince their victims to wire money or use prepaid debit cards to make a donation. Never give personal information or money to a telephone or email solicitor.

Double-check. Watch for “pop-up” charities with unverifiable background and contact information. Unscrupulous organizations may try to trip up donors by using names that sound similar to reputable charities.

Block social media pleas. Be wary of requests from fake victims or memorial social media accounts. Remember to verify the organization first before giving a penny.

Look closely at crowdfunding sites. Some crowdfunding sites do their best to verify a posted request is legitimate. But some may be set up by family members of victims, meaning it isn’t a charity, and will go directly into someone’s bank account. Those types of donations make it difficult to know where exactly the money is going and how it is being used.

Charity Navigator released a list of fake charities detailing just how rampant this time of scam can be. For more tips on giving wisely visit www.give.org.