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Charity Scam Artists and Haiti: Donate With Caution

As we wrote about earlier in Findlaw's Law and Daily Life Blog, the response for charitable contributions for the devastating earthquake in Haiti has been immense. Experts say that so much money has never been raised so quickly. But what about charity scam artists and Haiti relief efforts? How do you know what is a legitimate charity organization willing to help the people of Haiti and which ones are charity scam artists trying to make a quick buck off your good will?

The FBI recently issued a warning about charity scam artists who are taking advantage of the earthquake relief efforts in order to make money. CNN reports that most charity scammers make their money via websites. Recently, California's Attorney General issued this press release about charity scams and Haiti. Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said: "After every tragedy, a wave of scam artists take advantage of generous individuals who want to help the victims of a tragedy. It's important to thoroughly research charitable organizations before you write a check."

Here are some useful tips to ensure that you give your charitable donation to a legitimate charity.

  • Be wary of charities that ask for donation via email or through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
  • Research the contact information and name of the charity.
  • Do not give any suspicious charity your personal or financial information.
  • Look up the charity at Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, or Charity Navigator.org.
  • Find out how much of the money that you donate will actually reach those in need.
  • Don't give cash. Making a check out in the name of the charity makes it harder for scammers to steal from you. Never use a credit card on a website you are not familiar with, or give your information over the phone.
  • If the charity asks you for more than you are willing to give, take that as a red flag. Legitimate charities take all donations happily.

For additional tips on charitable giving, check out our Related Resources.

Related Resources:

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