Make sure your contributions are actually going toward a good cause.
The FBI New York Office reminds the public to apply a critical eye before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of recent disaster victims. In the past, tragedies and natural disasters have inspired individuals with criminal intent to solicit contribution while falsely representing a charitable organization and/or good cause.
Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
- Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
- Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its non-profit status.
- 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.
- To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Do not be pressured into making contributions, as reputable charities do not use such tactics.
- 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.
- Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster or earthquake victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866.720.5721. You can also fax information to 225.334.4707 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.