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
Before you send money to a charity, you can also check on their track record by visiting these sites:
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance