Warning issued over disaster relief scams

Warning issued over disaster relief scams

By Greg Collier

If you’ve been following the news recently, you might have heard about the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The earthquake left close to 2,000 victims dead, with thousands more displaced. And this was after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Grace. You might be moved to make a charitable donation to help the disaster relief, but as usual, scammers are looking to take advantage of the plight of the Haitians for their own personal gain. So, you can’t just donate to any charity that comes along claiming to help the Haiti disaster.

The Florida Attorney General’s office has issued a warning about charity scams related to the earthquake. While the scams haven’t appeared yet, the Florida Attorney General expects them to descend on Florida due to their large Haitian population. However, it will probably also start spreading outside of the Sunshine State.

You should avoid donating to any charity that has a vague name like ‘Disaster Relief Fund’. Charities that solicit you out of the blue by using robocalls or mass emails could be suspect as well.

If you want to make a meaningful donation, there are ways to check to make sure the charity you’re donating to is legitimate. For example, there are websites like Charity Navigator and Give.org that can let you which charities are for real and which ones aren’t. You can also check to see if a charity is registered with the IRS.

As with most scams, if you’re contacted out of the blue, do not give any personal or financial information to whoever is contacting you. Also, be careful of any crowdfunding campaign that is being run by anonymous or unknown individuals.

The people of Haiti deserve our help, and your contribution shouldn’t go into the pockets of a scammer.