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Haiti Relief Organizations: FBI Warns Americans to be Careful in Wake of Earthquake Tragedy

(AP/Matt Marek/American Red Cross)
NEW YORK (CBS) The FBI is cautioning Americans who want to donate to Haiti relief funds to be careful. If past tragedies are any indication, not all of them are legitimate.

On Wednesday, the FBI issued this press release.

Haitian Earthquake Relief Fraud Alert

Washington, D.C. – The FBI today reminds Internet users who receive appeals to donate money in the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before responding to those requests. Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.

Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:

• Do not respond to any unsolicited (SPAM) incoming emails, 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.

• Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.

• 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.

• Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.

• 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.

End of Press Release

For those inclined to give, researching a charity is a good idea. Guidestar and Charity Navigator are two sites that help find reputable charities and research charities' reputations.

CBS has also compiled a MEDIAPICTURES: Haiti's Quake Aftermath
PICTURES: Haitian Earthquake

MORE ON CBS NEWS
How to Help Victims
Blog: The Latest Developments
Complete Coverage: Devastation in Haiti

  • Neil Katz

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