FBI issues fraud alert warning about Haiti donation scams

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The FBI issued a warning to those wanting to donate money to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti to make sure they are giving money to a legitimate charity.
Tragedies bring out not only the best in people, but the worst, too. Major disasters have been a catalyst for scammers, who know people will be digging into their pockets to help those in need. If there's a chance at getting people's money, the crooks will pounce on it like a shark sensing blood.

It happens during hurricanes in the U.S., it happened with the Indian Ocean tsunami and it is certain crop again in the coming days -- if it hasn't already started.

The FBI offers the following advice for those considering making donations:
  • Don't reply to unsolicited emails or click on any links in them
  • Be wary of people claiming to be an official or a victim asking for a donation
  • Rather than follow a link intended to show you a claim is legitimate -- it's easy to spoof a real site -- go to the known site of the charity without following the links, such as the American Red Cross' RedCross.org.
  • Don't open email attachments, such as those claiming to show pictures from the disaster, unless it comes from a known sender
  • Make your contributions directly to a charity rather than going through someone else
  • Don't release your personal information to someone soliciting money
If you receive a suspicious email or have been a victim of a scam in the name of helping the victims, report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Before you send money to a charity, you can also check on their track record by visiting these sites:

Guidestar
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance
Charity Navigator

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