Disaster Relief Scam Warnings

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The tsunami that struck Asia over the weekend is raising concerns about scam artists trying to profit off the tragedy.

Florida law requires all charitable organizations to register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to make sure donations actually go to the cause.

Department spokeswoman Liz Compton says you should double check before you donate.

“When there’s a tragedy there’s always someone out there who wants to make a buck off of that tragedy and we don’t think that this will be any different.”

“We had scam artists surface after 9/11 pretending to be collecting money for the firemen in New York, we’ve had scam artists come out after the wildfires of ’98 and ’99, so we do know that they don’t care that its a tragedy, they’re going to make money off of it.”

Consumer watchdogs recommend you never donate cash to an organization or charity. Always write checks payable to the organization and not an individual person.

If you’re unsure about the validity of an organization, you can contact the Consumer Services Hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352) to find out if a charity is registered and to learn more about its history.