Published on November 22nd, 2013 | by Sveten0
Don’t Get Scammed – Philippines Typhoon Haiyan
“Typhoon Haiyan – locally known as Yolanda, considered the most powerful storm to ever make landfall, battered the Philippines with sustained winds close to 200 mph. The current death toll is feared to be over 10,000. The storm has caused mudslides, 30 feet high storm surges, as well as flash flooding. According to Philippine authorities, more than 12 million people are at risk due to the storm’s powerful impact.”
The damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan left people awestruck, and had them wondering how they can help. Relief organizations have called for help in the means of donations worldwide. However, there are a lot of cold hearted people who take opportunities like this to scam people out of money. Today, we’re going to be talking about how you can ensure that your donations are going to places you want them to go to, and not someone else’s pocket.
What Is A Charity Scam?
These are scams that try to take advantage of your generosity. They involve a “scammer” collecting money by posing as a genuine charity.
Not only do these scams cost you money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes. Charity scams occur all the time, but they are more concentrated towards a media fueled natural disaster, when they occur. Scammers may also play on your emotions by claiming to help children who are ill.
Charity scams operate in a number of different ways. Scammers can come knocking door to door, or they may set up false websites which look similar to those operated by real charities. Some scammers will also call you or email you with spam emails requesting donations.
How Can I Spot A Scam?
Now you may be wondering what precautions you can take to avoid being scammed. Here are some tell-tale signs which will eventually lead to a scam. The main one being: The charity is not known, or is well-known but the scam is operating via a fake website or fake letters and emails.
ScamWATCH tells us these important warning signs:
Scams in person:
- The person who claims to be collecting donations on behalf of the charity approaches you face-to-face and does not have any identification. Remember that even if they do have identification, it could be forged or meaningless.
- The person tries to put pressure on you by making you feel guilty or selfish if you don’t want to donate.
- The person asking for money cannot or will not give you details about the charity, such as its full name, tax status, address or phone number.
- The person gets defensive if you ask any questions about what the charity does and how much of the donation gets taken up by costs.
- The person asks for a cash donation and they don’t want to accept a cheque. Or, they want the cheque to be made out to them rather than to the charity.
- The person doesn’t want to give you a receipt. Or, they give you a receipt that does not have the charity’s details on it.
Scams Through Websites:
- The scam operates via a fake website which is a very close replica to a legitimate charity site. Scammers may also use replica letters and emails.
- In the past, websites have been created that replicate all the details of reputable charities—changing only the details of where to send donations.
- Illegitimate online collectors will insist on payment by money transfer.
How Do I Report A Scam? (SCAMwatch)
If you think you’ve spotted a scam, report a scam to SCAMwatch or contact the ACCC on 1300 795 995. You should also spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.
Have you been scammed? – What to do if you’ve been scammed; Scams & the law; Report a scam.
Is There Anything I Should Avoid?
Here are a couple of things you should avoid:
- You should avoid making a donation based solely on the charity’s name. Charities ranging from well-known emergency relief organizations to organizations experienced in reconstruction will likely be soliciting for various relief assistance efforts. Make sure the appeal specifies how the charity will help.
- You should avoid collecting and donating various items without verifying that the items can be used. Unless you have verified that a charity is in need of specific items and has a distribution plan in place, collecting clothing, food and other goods may end up being a wasted effort.
- You should avoid donating to inexperienced charities If the charity has not previously been involved in disaster relief, or does not have experience in assisting the overseas nation(s) that have been impacted, this likely will hamper their ability to work well in the affected areas.
- This is a major one, you should avoid responding to online and social medial appeals without checking. Don’t assume that since a third-party blog, website or friend recommended a relief charity that it has been thoroughly vetted. Check out the charity’s website on your own.
- A big no-no. You should avoid donating without doing your homework. Find out if a charity meets recognized accountability standards. You can read in the section below where you can do your homework.
Okay, I Did My Homework, and I Found A Charity I’d Like To Donate To, How Do I Check If It’s Legit?
There are loads of charities, but how many of them are legit, and how much of the donation actually goes to the affected places?
There a couple of websites whose main aim is to provide us information about how transparent a charity is, where its funds go, etc.
The top two websites (should be enough) are:
- http://www.charitynavigator.org/ (Worldwide)
- http://www.bbb.org/us/ (USA Version)
- http://www.bbb.org/canada/ (Canadian Version)
These websites review and rate most of the charities looking for donations.
Image credits: DVIDSHUB Flickr