LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — FBI Little Rock Field Office advises Arkansans to be cautious of charity and disaster scams following the recent severe storms.

The FBI says in a press release that natural disaster damage often provides opportunities for criminals to scam storm victims and those who are assisting victims with recovery.

The release says the FBI typically receives complaints of charity and disaster schemes.

The FBI says it is reminding the public to be vigilant when looking to donate to storm relief causes and when searching for contractors to repair damages.

The FBI offers the following reminders and tips on how to avoid falling victim to charity and disaster fraud:

  • Scammers may go door to door to target residents in areas affected by severe storms. They may also call, text, or email with promises to quickly provide aid. Do not give out personal information without confirming the legitimacy of the person contacting you.
  • Government workers are required to carry official identification and show it if requested. Closely scrutinize any ID you see and call the agency directly to confirm a worker’s identity if you are unsure.
  • Be wary of new organizations that claim to aid victims of recent high-profile disasters. Validate the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Do research when it comes to donations. Use the Federal Trade Commission’s resources to examine the track record of a charity.
  • Donate using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it is probably a scam.
  • After donating, be sure to review your financial accounts to ensure additional funds are not deducted or charged.
  • Don’t always trust your caller ID. Scammers often spoof agency phone numbers. It is always best to research the organization’s telephone number and call directly to verify. Do not be pressured or rushed to donate because it may be a scam.
  • Contractor fraud scams are prevalent in the aftermath of a natural disaster. If your home or business was damaged, you will need a reputable contractor. Not everyone who claims to be able to repair your property is legitimate.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal government disaster assistance agencies do not ask for financial information, and there is no fee required to apply for assistance.

Arkansans who suspect they have been victimized are encouraged to report it to the FBI here.