Tips On Avoiding Fraudulent CharitableContribution Schemes

Since late May and early June 2008, there have been several natural disasters throughout the country-including tornadoes, wildfires, and floods-that have devastated lives and property. In the wake of these events, which cause emotional distress and great financial loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help, frequently through monetary donations.

Tragic incidents such as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the recent earthquake in China 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 unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
* Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
* Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
* To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
* Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
* Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
* Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

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