As Haitians suffer in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Americans are opening their wallets to give. Don’t be scammed.
A Consumer’s Guide
The Better Business Bureau is advising consumers how to vet charity appeals on its Web site. Based on the group’s experience after Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in 2004, fraudulent charities seem to spring from disaster.
Consumers should go to the BBB Web site to research charities and relief organizations that are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
Charity Navigator is the oldest and most reputable of organizations that check out the credibility of those soliciting donations. Please include them in any search you do.
The BBB suggests you:
- Beware of organizations that claim 100 percent of funding will go to help earthquake victims. Administrative and fund raising expenses always need to be funded.
- Be cautious about giving online. Many charities created overnight surfaced after the tsunami disaster in 2004.
- Find out if the group provides direct aid or is raising funds for others. Check out who is the ultimate recipient of funds.
- Giving clothing, food, water may not get to the intended unless the organization has people at the disaster site. Ask the charity about its distribution plans.
The American Red Cross allows people to text “HAITI” to 90999 to make an instant $10 donation. And Twitter and Facebook have seen a frenzy of instructions to send texts to certain numbers and select “Yes” when prompted. Some are valid, but many are not. Going Cellular.com reports you might think a request is valid if it comes from a friend, and $10 is not much, but don’t assume your friend has checked out the request source.
Other worthy charities are World Vision; Save the Children; Care USA; Groups like UNICEF, Mercy Corps, and The American Red Cross already have emergency workers in the devastated areas of Haiti.
MSNBC has compiled a list of charitable organizations that are active in Haiti.