Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Warning about Japan earthquake charitable giving

Several groups have warnings before you donate money to Japan's earthquake relief:

As we learn more about the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit near the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance warns that — as occurred following the tsunami in 2004, Katrina in 2005 and the earthquake in Haiti just last year — fraudulent charities will likely emerge to try and scam donations from well-meaning Americans. BBB WGA urges givers to make sure their donations will go to legitimate and reputable charities and relief efforts that have the capability to help those in need.

“Whenever there is a major natural disaster, be it home or abroad, there are two things you can count on. The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims, and the second is the appearance of poorly run and in some cases fraudulent charities,” said Art Taylor, President and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “Not only do Americans need to be concerned about avoiding fraud, they also need to make sure their money goes to competent relief organizations that are equipped and experienced to handle the unique challenges of providing assistance.”

READ WARNING TIPS FROM BBB

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reminds the public to use caution when making donations in the aftermath of natural disasters. Unfortunately, criminals can exploit these tragedies for their own gain by sending fraudulent e-mails and creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions.

The FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud have an existing tip line to receive information from the public about suspected fraud associated with the earthquake and tsunami that affected Japan. Tips should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, (866) 720-5721. The line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mails can be sent to disaster@leo.gov, and information can be faxed to (225) 334-4707.

CLICK HERE FOR FBI'S GIVING GUIDELINES

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