Help Tornado Victims by Donating Money, Watch for Scammers

There are some residents who are attempting to help those affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes in the state and many are asking how to help the victims.

Officials from Indiana Department of Homeland Security advise you to be organized in volunteer efforts and to give money through the proper channels, as opposed to donating items.

IDHS Senior Public Information Officer John Erickson suggested donating money to a legitimate agency to help them help those in need. Some organizations are helping with debris removal and other relief efforts and can’t take the time to sort through donated items. A monetary donation is recommended so the most needed items can be purchased and distributed quickly.

If you are interested in volunteering with relief efforts, contact the local Red Cross or the Salvation Army.

If you are solicited for assistance, be very careful as scammers like to take advantage of you in these types of situations. If you are approached by a person who states they are a federal or state employee, ask for their identification. Federal and state employees carry official photo identification. Do not give out personal information such as social security or bank account numbers. Government representatives are never allowed to accept money. If someone claiming to be a government employee or a contractor attempts to collect money from you, report that person and any other information about the incident to your local police department.

Research contractors by checking references, asking for proof of insurance, and asking for a written estimate and contract. Don’t pay for the entire project before the work begins.

If you believe you have become the victim of a scam, call your local police department.