7 On Your Side
Earthquake charity scams
NEWARK, N.J. (WABC) -- When disasters like today's earthquake in Japan happen, people often want to help donate to victims. Unfortunately, these tragedies also bring out scammers trying to take advantage of your generosit.
As fast as the tsunami's waves hit, a torrent of scam solicitations for fake charities can flood the world wide web.
"Be careful. With telephone solicitation never succumb to high pressure tactics and know your charity investigate before you donate," cautions Tom Calcagni, head of New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs.
It happened after Haiti's earthquakes (in January, 2010) a spike of complaints to New Jersey consumer affairs from from victim's of charity fraud.
Before you give, make sure you are working with an established charity, one with a reputable name familiar to you.
Also, avoid telemarketers. Most established charities don't normally solicit donations over the phone. If you're suspicious, ask to call the person back after checking them out. Also, many professional telemarketers take a cut of your donation. you can simply donate through an established charity directly, not through a telemarketer.
Also designate your donation if you want your donation to help victims directly and not go to charity's general operating fund.
During his radio address this morning, Mayor Bloomberg talked about the city's efforts to help victims, through the Mayor's fund, "If anyone wants to donate money to help, and I don't know if they need money yet. But if they do the mayor's fund will arrange for money to be sent over. We did that for the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.
There are many worthy charities ramping up to help, a little research will get your money in the right hands.
Checking out charities in Connecticut ---
Justice Department advisory:
Members of the public should perform due diligence before giving contributions to individuals or organizations soliciting donations or claiming to provide assistance to the victims of natural disasters. Suspected fraudulent charity schemes should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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