Haiti Earthquake Donation Scam Warning: Tips to Avoid Scams
FBI issued a statement today to urge donors to watch out for Haiti earthquake donation scams.
An FBI official said the bureau has already received a handful of complaints about potentially fraudulent website aiming to capitalize on well meaning donors. These type of scams usually take place online, as they have been in the past when major disasters hit. Modern technology, such as internet and cell phones, makes "impulse" donations easier, and donors might forget to verify the organizations before giving.
Internet scammers may send out what appears to be personal emails seeking for help. They may direct would be donors to a fraudulent website. The website could feature a non-existent aid organization or a clone version of a legitimate charity. It is best not to trust unsolicited email plead of help. Even if the sender appears to be from a prominent charity organization, it may be worthwhile to use search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing to enter the organization's website.
Better Business Bureau provided a list of tips to avoid scams:
Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.
Donors are advised to consult experts when deciding which charity to donate to. Charity Navigator compiled a list of organizations operating to help the Haiti earthquake, among them are CARE, Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, American Red Cross.
Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
While administration cost may be minimized, processing fee is almost inevitable. For example, donations from credit card will incur service charges.
Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
It will be difficult for charities to help the affected areas if they don't already have staff on the ground.
Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
If the charity does not directly helping the Haiti earthquake, donors can consider skipping the "middleman" to reduce the processing cost when money is passed along to other relief organizations.
Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.
It is best to give direct monetary support instead of food or clothing because it is much more difficult to distribute such donation. It requires organizations to have the staff and infrastructure to handle donations of good properly. Be ware of inexperienced organizations asking for goods donations.
More related stories on NowPublic Haiti Earthquake Channel