Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who evil. Some of them are pretty smart and are able to come up with convincing stories to separate you from your money, even in the name of charity. I suspect there’s a special place in Hell for those folks, but how can you be sure your desperately needed donations are actually going to help disaster victims and not to line the pockets of these criminals?
Read the things to beware of and continue to the bottom of the page, where I will list legitimate organizations that you can call and donate to. Please do donate whatever you can. Disaster relief is something nobody wants to nave a need for, but when everything has been destroyed, it is a blessing to have basic necessities and medical care. Your money can make a big difference.
Things to Beware of:
1—Never give your credit card number to anyone calling on the phone or emailing you. They can sound very legitimate! Con artists are notorious for fooling even smart people. They can copy logos and make their emails and scam sites look very real—this is called “phishing”. Do not fall for it. Do not give your credit card number to anyone over the phone or online, unless you called them, or unless you go to their website.
2—If an individual calls or emails you claiming to be a victim, tell them you donate to relief organizations and suggest they call them, and delete the email without responding. These emails will direct you to a bogus, but real-looking site to enter your credit card. They will not only steal the money you donate, they will likely use your credit card number to buy more stuff! There are crooks who wait for opportunities to take advantage of your generous nature when disasters strike.
3—Door-to-door solicitations and telemarketing: Real charities rarely have the manpower to do this. They are busy helping victims and they know it’s not an efficient way to collect money or goods. Crooks are not busy and know that playing on your sympathy is a good way to get extra cash. Simply tell them you are donating by other means. If you are called by an organization you have donated to before, it's still a good idea to verify before giving. So, look up their number yourself and call them back--don't call the number someone on the phone gives you as this could be part of their scam.
4—Roadside collection points: Some of these are legitimate, but unless you know for sure, drive on by. There are many places you can donate and know that your money will go to the right sources.
5--Text message donations. The Red Cross has raised millions with their texting program for Haiti. This is a legitimate and very simple way to donate. You can send a $10 donation by texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999. The $10 will be on your phone bill.
Smart Giving Tips:
1—Write a check, don’t give cash. Make your check out to the organization, not an individual. Never give your credit card, social security number or other personal information over the phone unless You made the call. And, even then, be sure you’ve got the right organization.
2—Ask questions. You have the right to know how your money will be used. You have a responsibility to ensure that it will be used wisely.
3—Do consider the Red Cross. They have a great reputation for responding to disasters quickly and doing good work with their donations. Of course, if you favor other disaster-related charities and have done your homework to make sure they are legitimate, donate to them.
Red Cross—My favorite because they get things done. No matter what the tragedy, where it happened, or what color, creed, gender, nationality or religion of the victims, they respond and bring real relief.
Their phone number is 1-800-HELP NOW. That’s been their number for years. It’s easy to remember and if you call them, you can rest assured that some poor victim will benefit. Their website is http://www.redcross.org. If you search for “red cross” they will come up at the top.
Again, please do give, and give generously.