Take care in donating to Haiti

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It's natural to want to help in the wake of disasters like this week's earthquake in Haiti. First, make sure your donation is going to a legitimate organization where it can do the most good (see below), and not to scam artists.

In the wake of this week's earthquake, the FBI is warning people to be careful when they make donations for disaster relief in Haiti. Tragedies and natural disasters bring almost immediate attempts by criminals and scam artists to capitalize on the tragedy by diverting donations from people who want to help the victims.

If someone contacts you to solicit a donation, research the non-profit group they claim to represent at Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) or Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.com) to determine if it is legitimate. Make sure that you contact the group only through contact information listed on Guidestar or through your local phone directory.

Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails from people you don’t know. Do not give out personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.

If you are considering a donation:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited incoming e-mails (spam), or click links contained in the messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals who say they are surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations through Guidestar of Charity Navigator.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Don't open attachments unless you know the sender.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your personal information and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Legitimate organizations

Here are legitimate organizations that will accept your donations:

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (www.doctorswithoutborders.org) Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

CARE (www.care.org) is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.

Red Cross (www.redcross.org) Since its founding in 1881, the American Red Cross has been the most visible emergency response organization.

Mercy Corps (www.mercycorps.org) Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.

UNICEF (www.UnicefUSA.org) UNICEF emergency relief supplies are heading for the Haitian capital. Based on early reports, the organization says it is clear that the earthquake and some 40 aftershocks have left immense suffering in a country that is ill-equipped to cope even at the best of times. UNICEF's priority is to make sure Haitian children get essential help as soon as possible.

How to complain

If you have received a suspicous e-mail report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center - IC3 (www.ic3.gov).




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