Tragic disasters like the earthquake in Haiti can bring out the best and the worst in people. While many people want to volunteer or contribute money to the Haitian relief effort, others are setting up scams hoping to make high profits from charitable givers.
Don’t fall for a fraudulent appeal for contributions. Here are a few good consumer tips issued recently by the FBI –
* Don’t respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mails, including clicking the links embedded in those messages.
* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
* Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations. Already, there are links on Google and ads on Craigslist that lead to fake charities or malicious software sites. Try an independent site such as charitynavigator.org to help identify legitimate and worthwhile charitable organizations.
* Don’t give your personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Be cautious and diligent when considering donations in the aftermath of a disaster. Legitimate charities providing relief to the Haiti earthquake victims are out there – but keep a watchful eye out for the scam artists who capitalize on the good intentions of charitable people.