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Alert: Typhoon scams

PRINCETON — As donations began to roll in following Typhoon Haiyan’s trail through 36 provinces within the Philippines, Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged Illinois residents to be on the lookout for fundraising scams.

The attorney general’s office advised donors to be wary of requests for clothing, food or other questionable in-kind donations. The attorney general’s office said unless a charitable organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid, the donations may be more of a burden than a help.

“Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance,” a press release stated.

Locally, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson confirmed he has not heard of any typhoon scams in the area, but it doesn’t mean it’s not happening locally and he just hasn’t yet been informed.

Thompson said he would not be surprised to hear about typhoon telephone scams targeting residents. Some people will manipulate and take advantage of tragedies to get people to send money, he said.

“The best thing you can do is to not talk to these people. Hang up on them if it is an unsolicited call,” Thompson said. “There are many local charities where the money will be well-served. I would turn to them first.”

Bureau County Red Cross Director Lori Compton confirmed donations for the typhoon disaster relief have been arriving at her office. She was not aware of any scams going on with the disaster relief funds, but she reminded residents to be aware to whom or to which organization they are making a donation.

Also, she reminded the American Red Cross does not make telephone calls to people asking for donations.

“The donor should be making the request, there will never be a request made by the Red Cross,” she said. “It’s just a terrible thing people take advantage of this type of situation to take money and create scams.”

Compton listed off various ways citizens can make a safe donation to the American Red Cross.

Donors can visit the American Red Cross website, or call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or visit the American Red Cross Facebook page and click on the box labeled Donate to American Red Cross. Citizens can also write a check to the Red Cross and drop it off at their local branch. Compton reminded residents to write disaster relief in the memo and not a specific tragedy. Also, citizens can text REDCROSS to 90999.

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