| The Truth:
There are scammers who come to life during a time of disaster and who will try to trick us into giving money to them instead of worthy relief organizations and who will, as well, try to get our personal financial information for identity theft.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
1. Do not respond to any email appeals for funds no matter who they appear to be from. If you get an email that seems to be from the Red Cross, for example, don’t assume that it really is. The scammers are able to put a link into the email that appears to be going to the Red Cross but in reality is linking to one of their own sites.
Other appeals will appear to be from particular individuals who are claiming to be victims of the disaster and asking for direct donations but who, in reality, are not.
2. Do not respond to any phone solicitations for the same reason. You do not know whether the people calling are really giving the funds to the organizations they claim to represent or whether your credit card information is being given to a trusted source.
3. The way to make a donation is to go directly to the official web site of any organizations you trust or to call them on the phone directly. If there are relief organizations that you know and trust, just do a web search such as through http://www.google.com and find that group’s official web site to make your contribution.
4. Avoid responding to requests for donations of clothing, tents, diapers, medicine, water, or food that are being collected to be sent to Haiti. Even if the effort is sincere, the chances of the goods getting there are very small. It is better to donate to relief organizations that are already there and buying and shipping such goods in bulk. Well meaning campaigns to collect goods to be sent to a disasater area usually result in warehouses full of things that never get there. Getting transportation of the goods is very difficult and then ensuring that even if they arrive that they won’t fall into the hands of corrupt government officials, black marketers, or thieves is very difficult.
There are numerous good relief organizations, but here are some examples if you would like to make donations that you know will be helping the people of Haiti:
The American Red Cross
Mercy Corps has teams on the ground in Haiti
Mission Aviation Fellowship has operated in Haiti for decades and provides air transportation for relief teams and supplies.
Samaritan’s Purse has operations in Haiti
UNICEF is focused on relief activities for children in Haiti