The scam artists are at it again… before you fork over your hard-earned dollars to help the victims of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, make sure you’re not about to play the fool.
The World Trade Center attacks, the Asian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina all spawned countless scams designed to trick kind-hearted people into parting with their money, and Haiti’s devastation serves their purposes very well.
Please give, but don’t let your sincere desire to help people in need get in the way of common sense. Make sure your money goes where you intended. Don’t let yourself and your intended benefactors be the victims of a scam! Do your due diligence before acting.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advises:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within 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 by utilizing various internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
- Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3 via www.ic3.gov.
In an related story, an organization definitely worthy of support, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), is asking that donations be made to its Emergency Relief Fund rather than to Haiti specifically, for some very valid reasons, posting the following on its website:
We are incredibly grateful for the generous support from our donors for the emergency in Haiti.
MSF has been working in Haiti for 19 years, most recently operating three emergency hospitals in Port-au-Prince, and is mobilizing a large emergency response to this disaster. Our immediate response in the first hours following the disaster in Haiti was only possible because of private unrestricted donations from around the world received before the earthquake struck. We are currently reinforcing our teams on the ground in order to respond to the immediate medical needs and to assess the humanitarian needs that MSF will be addressing in the months ahead.
We are now asking our donors to give to our Emergency Relief Fund. These types of funds ensure that our medical teams can react to the Haiti emergency and humanitarian crises all over the world, particularly neglected crises that remain outside the media spotlight. Your gift via this website will be earmarked for our Emergency Relief Fund.
If you wish to donate to the people of Haiti, the safest way is for you to contact a reputable organization yourself. (How to Help Haiti)
Resources to fact check charitable organizations:
CharityNavigator.org: Find a charity you can trust.
ScamBusters.org: Check on internet scams, identity theft, and urban legends.
HAITI INFORMATION AND ACTIONS
Haiti’s reconstruction by Haitians living aboard For these noble goals, we ask that the government of the country in which we reside to task our pay check $10 per pay period for the next 50 years so that we can rebuild our dear Haiti.
Support the UN’s Response to Haiti Quake Victims United Nations Foundation
Honor UN Peacekeepers in Haiti Better World Campaign