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BBB: Most Haiti Charities are Scams, Do Your Research

BBB: Most Haiti Charities are Scams, Do Your Research

BBB
January 13, 2010

In the wake of the major earthquake in Haiti, many Americans want to help with donations to relief agencies and charities working in the region. However, as with every natural disaster, there are some unscrupulous people who will attempt to take advantage of the public’s eagerness to help victims. BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas offers advice for donors to ensure their donations go to trustworthy relief efforts.

“In the face of any disaster, Americans are quick to step forward with donations to aid the victims and their families,” said Carrie A. Hurt, President and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas. “Unfortunately, scammers will try to take advantage of the generosity of the public; that’s why it’s important to take the time to research a charity before donating to relief efforts.”

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice to make sure donations go to worthy charities and relief efforts:

* Before making a contribution, visit www.bbb.org/charity to view detailed reports on many of the relief organizations providing assistance. (go here to find the list of charities that meet BBB standards)

* Think twice about donating to any charity that is inexperienced in carrying out relief efforts, but is suddenly soliciting for aid to Haiti. Although well intentioned, such organizations may not have the ability to quickly deliver aid to those in need.

* Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.

* Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity’s program(s) and finances such as the charity’s latest annual report and financial statements.

* Find out what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions remaining after they have fully funded the disaster relief activities mentioned in solicitations.

* Do not give cash. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.

* Keep an eye out for fake charities that imitate the name and style of well-known organizations in order to confuse people and potentially steal personal information such as credit card numbers.
* Don’t give in to excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a “runner” to pick up your contribution.

* Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the needs of victims and their families.

* Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.

* To help ensure your contribution is tax deductible, donations should be made to charitable organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Go to IRS Publication 78 on http://www.irs.gov for a current list of all organizations eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.

For more information on the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and to view BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities across the nation go to www.bbb.org/charity.

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