Watch Out for Haiti Charity Scams
People affected by the earthquake in Haiti. | Photo: MSNBC
MILWAUKEE - As relief aid pours into Haiti, consumer advocacy groups are warning people about scammers who could try to prey on your generosity.
"We want Wisconsinites to use their head, and give with their heart," said Wisconsin Better Business Bureau President Randall Hoth.
He says that means being aware of exactly where their money is going.
"I think the biggest concern is spam, fake web sites and links that may be coming to people online. Being cautious when giving online in a disaster like this is important."
Make sure you know who is operating the site, and being highly suspicious if they claim that 100 percent of your donation will go to victims, since every legitimate charity involves some operating cost.
"The good news is that there are legitimate charities that have set up text to donate," said Hoth. "Our concern is that an e-mail or a web site name suggests another text name and series of letters, and we may not have any ability to see if that money is going to a legitimate charity. We recommend that you check www.state.gov. There's a listing of legitimate ways to donate using text messaging."
Hoth also recommends finding out if the group you're planning to donate to already has an on-the-ground presence in Haiti since getting workers there may be very difficult.
Also, avoid giving food, clothing or other in-kind gifts unless the group has a way to quickly and efficiently distribute them.