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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Give to Haiti, people desperate for help, Beware cons

Donate money to Haiti

earth quake victims

Beware con men
making false appeals

For nearly all Americans it is difficult to understand the abject poverty, the starvation, the oppression of unjust governments and on top of it all, through a national disaster like an earth quake.  Haiti is such a country and it's people are in desperate need of help.  I hope you can find it in your heart to reach into your wallet and pull out a few bucks for someone who is suffering.

Unfortunately, there are the unscrupulous in our society who would take advantage of those who are suffering and try to make a buck on their backs.  Such people are the lowest of the low, and we hope they are brought to justice, every one of them.

The FBI sent out a press release today advising generous citizens to be careful about fraud on the net.  In specific, the FBI is concerned about the tragic earthquake in Haiti being the fodder for the greedy and dishonest.  Our hearts go out to those who suffered so much, and are still suffering, from Haiti's natural disaster.  However, it helps no one when we are victims of cons and bunko rings.

The FBI has a few suggestions that suggest you keep in mind:
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links in those messages.  
We all know about that one.  Next.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations
Before giving money verify the legitimacy of the non-profit asking for the donation. 
Investigating and researching is a fun way to use the net!  We like using Wikpedia as a portal because we trust the links.  The FBI specifically advises against using the link in the original email, we agree!
Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
Great advice!
Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.  
We find giving to the United Way and leaving it at that is a mistake.  While we think the United Way is a great organization, they are not effective in every circumstance.  If we want to help specific victims or make the funds available to smaller and lesser known relief agencies then large charitable organizations are NOT the way to get our money where we want it to go. 

Some of the smaller relief agencies, perhaps religous based, or supported by a known relief organization, can operate with lower overhead and make the buck stretch much farther than the large ones.  That being said, giving your money to a charitable organization that claims it will spread the dough around is likely a mistake, as well.  Know who you are giving your hard earned mula to and do your research!
Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
More great advice.  Look for ways to send your money that don't include your account information.  You might ask your bank to draft a bank check, for example.

Let's get these creeps off of the internet!  If you think you have been the victim of a bunko artist or have spotted a ring, the FBI asks you to contact the internet crime complaint center,   internet crime complaint center   
You can also contact the national white collar crime center.  the national white collar complaint center nw3c  It is our job to keep the net safe from hooligans~
I hope you will open your heart to a country and people in need.  Everyone deserves a chance.  You can't save the world but you can make a difference in Haiti, a poor country suffering from a massive earth quake.  Donate money.  Help people.  But as the FBI memo suggests, when making a difference, let's make sure the money goes where it will do good and not in the pockets of evil con men.

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