Tuesday, January 19, 2010

USIIA Bulletin - Avoiding Haiti Aid Scams

This is some pertinent and timely information from the US Internet Industry Association Bulletin.
USIIA Bulletin       January 19, 2010       Volume 10:02
Avoiding Haiti Aid Scams

As the world looks for ways to help the victims of Haiti's 
earthquake, the FBI is now warning that there are also 
those who are looking for opportunities set up scams 
surrounding the latest disaster relief efforts.

The FBI advises that people should be very skeptical of any 
unsolicited appeals they receive or find on the Internet.

One month after Hurricane Katrina, the FBI said it was 
suspicious of most of the 4,600 Web sites soliciting money 
on behalf of those victims. Within an hour of the World 
Trade Center attacks, scam sites popped up on the Web 
according to ScamBusters.org.

Here are some tips from the FBI, Scam.Busters and the Better
Business Bureau on how to make sure your money goes to 
people in need. 

• Be skeptical if someone e-mails you or contacts you 
through social networking sites claiming to be a quake 
victim or a government or charity official and asks for 
donations, the FBI says. Also, the agency says, do not 
click on any links within those e-mails. And do not click 
on attached files labeled photos or video because they 
may contain viruses.

• It's OK to be suspicious. Ask for the name, phone 
number and address of the charity. The American Institute 
of Philanthropy says honest charities encourage you to 
know about them and respond to your questions. Also, 
request that they put the information in writing.

• However, do not give them your personal or financial 
information, because that may leave you vulnerable to 
identity theft.

• Don't be misled by a charity name that "sort of sounds 
familiar." Scammers may change one word in the title to 
trick you.

• Ask if the charity is registered with any organization 
and get the registration number. Check for the 
organization on Web sites such as the Better Business 
Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, or Charity Navigator.org. 

• Ask what percentage of the money you give actually 
reaches the needy. You also can designate how your 
donation is to be used.

• Don't ever donate cash. Make the check out to the name 
of the charity, not the person asking for money. And get 
a receipt with the name of the charity on it. Do NOT 
give your credit card number to telemarketers or use it 
on a Web site of a charity you have not checked out.

• If the person seeking your donation asks you to give 
more, that may be a sign that something is wrong. 
Legitimate charities are grateful, not demanding.


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