Haiti relief earthquake scams started within 24 hours of the Haiti earthquake on Monday. Over four hundred Internet address related to Haiti relief funds have been registered since Monday, some legitimate and others fraudulent, and the number continues to grow. As critical as it is that we all give to the Haiti relief funds, we need to be sure that our donated dollars will get to the aid effort for the people of Haiti and not just in the scammers pockets.
Some of there scams include emails that are asking donors for money, there are also phone calls being made to ask for money. Phony websites are going up daily where all the scammers want is to gather credit card numbers from people who want to donate to a Haiti relief fund.
So how do you know if you are donating to a legitimate Haiti relief fund and not the scammers? The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Better Business Bureau have put together these five tips to help ensure you donation gets to a legitimate Haiti relief fund:
Haiti Relief Fund Tip #1
Donate to the established and reputable charity organizations. The American Institute of Philanthropy has a link, the Haiti Earthquake Relief Charities with high rankings from the AIP. The AIP is identifying the charities with a grading system. Each charity receives an “A” or a “B” and grading is based on fundraising efficiency and the percentage of the charity’s budget that goes to program services.
Haiti Relief Fund Tip #2
Do not donate directly to individuals, either from over the phone or Internet. Make sure you send your donations only to reputable organizations.
Haiti Relief Fund Tip #3
Be very careful when you are donating online. It is very easy for the scammers to establish a website virtually overnight. Look to make sure that the website ends in .org. Most non-profit’s email addresses end in ‘org and not .com. To help know you’re your donations will be used correctly, do not respond to unsolicited emails. Most often these will be originating from a scammer.
Haiti Relief Fund Tip #4
Take the time to do some research and make sure that the charity you choose to donate to will use your dollars on the ground in Haiti for the relief effort. Make sure the charity has the infrastructure in place to get the aid to Haiti and people there to help in making a difference.
Haiti Relief Fund Tip #5
Do give as much money as you can to help the Haiti people recover from this devastating earthquake. But do not attempt to donate food, clothing, or equipment at this time. Although Haiti needs these things, the most important way that you can help immediately is with money.
Use the above information to be able to safely contribute to the Haiti relief funds. However, if you feel that you have been part of a scam situation then you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, if your donation was online, or with the National Fraud Information Center if your donation was taken over the phone or online.