Disasters like the earthquake in Haiti can bring out the best and, unfortunately, the worst in people. Both the FBI and the Better Business Bureau have issued warnings about scammers trying to take advantage of people's generosity during the crisis.
The FBI reminds people to take a critical eye and do their due digilence before giving anyone or any organizations money.
The FBI offers the following suggestions:
* Do not respond to any unsolicited incoming emails, including clicking links cotained within those messages
* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as survivors or officials asking for donations via email 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 emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files. Those files may actually contain viruses
* 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 that information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft
If you have received a suspicious email or been contacted by someone claiming to be a victim, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.ic3.gov/.
The national Better Business Bureau also offers suggestions on avoiding fraudulent charities. To read more, click here.
Search charitynavigator.org to check the legitimacy of a charitable organization.
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