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Falling for scams could be a disaster

September is Disaster Preparedness Month. During situations like a natural disaster or health emergency, scammers work fast to come up with new ways to con you out of money or to gain access to sensitive personal or financial information. They might try to prey on your generosity and empathy by coming up with a fake charity to provide relief for people affected by a natural disaster but pocket the donations instead. They could also try to sell you a phony cure or treatment during a health emergency, as we’ve seen during the pandemic.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, here are a few tips for avoiding disaster-related scams, as well as steps you can take to spread the word.

Tips to avoid scams

  • Don’t share Social Security or Medicare ID numbers or financial information with someone you don’t know who contacts you in person or by phone, text message, social media message, or email.
  • Be wary if someone asks you for money by wire transfer, gift cards, or a mobile payment app or asks you to cash their check and send a portion of the money back.

Spread the word

We created new formats of our popular fraud prevention placemat series to help you share information about disaster-related scams with others. For the first time, you can order posters, bookmarks, and table tents, in addition to placemats, to display at libraries, financial institutions, community centers, faith-based organizations and churches, and legal aid offices. Or download handouts to share in e-mail newsletters or on your website.

Order free copies (available in English and Spanish).

How to report a scam

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, whether it’s disaster-related or not, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or by calling 1-800-FTC-HELP.

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