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
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