How unfortunate, but at a time when folks need help the most – at that same time – there are those who find the greatest opportunity to take advantage of those kind enough to offer help. SCAMMERS are in full force concocting schemes to take money that you would give to help and instead help themselves. Whether it’s 9/11 or Katrina – the disaster makes no difference – Scammers have one goal – DEFRAUD YOU.
More than 400 Internet addresses related to Haiti have been registered since Monday’s devastating quake, Internet security expert Joel Esler said. The names reference Haiti and words such as “earthquake,” “help,” “aid,” “victims” and “survivors.”
Here are tips offered by the FBI, Better Business Bureau and Scam.busters. Also click here for a video on the subject.
- Be skeptical of email through Social Networking sites. Don’t click on Links or attached files.
- Ask for the name and phone number of the charity or request that they put information in writing.
- Do Not give personal financial information – You’d be vulnerable to identity theft.
- Don’t be mislead by a “Sound Like” Charity name
- Ask if the Charity is registered with any organization and get the registration number. Check with CharityNavigator.org.
- Ask what percentage of your gift actually reaches the needy.
- Don’t ever donate cash and DO NOT give out your credit car number to telemarketers or use it with a charity you have not checked out.
- If the person asks for more…that may be a sign something is wrong
If there is ever a time that the Haitian people need help it is now. That is not true for Scammers. Don’t fall prey to a scam. Make sure your heart felt contribution goes directly to those who need it the most.
Here’s a link to a list of charities that are providing relief to the Haiti effort and have been signed off on by charitynavigator.org. HAPPY GIVING TO YOU!
MORE DETAILED TIPS FROM THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU:
- Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
- Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fundraising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fundraising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.
- Be cautious when giving online. Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and e-mails that claim to link to a relief organization. In response to the tsunami disaster in 2004, there were concerns raised about many Web sites and new organizations that were created overnight allegedly to help victims.
- Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the effected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance. See if the charity’s Web site clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
- Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
- Ask before giving gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations. In-kind drives for food and clothing-while well intentioned-may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need, unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.