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Beware of fraudulent Haitian relief funds

January 21, 2010

Across the world, people have opened up their hearts - and their wallets - to help the victims of the recent Haitian earthquake. Unfortunately, such natural disasters also present an opportunity for swindlers to trick you into donating money to phony relief funds.

Before making a donation, make sure the fund is legitimate. Here are tips from the FBI on how to steer clear of relief fund scams:

  • Don't respond to unsolicited e-mails you receive and don't click any links contained within those messages
  • Be suspicious of people who represent themselves as victims who survived the disaster or as officials asking for donations through e-mail or social networking sites. (Also, to avoid infecting your computer with a virus, beware of e-mails that ask you open attachments to see photographs of the disaster. Only open attachments from senders that you know)
  • Rather than following a link to an organization's web site, verify the legitimacy of the group by doing some research on the Internet to verify its existence and nonprofit status
  • Donate directly to organizations you know rather than relying on unfamiliar people or entities to forward the money on your behalf
  • Never give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing this information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft
If you encounter a relief fund appeal that appears fraudulent, call the 24/7 FBI and National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.

 


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