Natural Disasters are horrible. They have the tendency to tug at our collective heartstrings and most Americans feeling that tug, immediately look for ways to help. There's no doubt about it, America is filled with generous people. We, thankfully, live in the land of plenty and don't mind sharing it with those, truly in need.
Unfortunately, the online predators are banking on it. Often they are able to spring into action by posting their counterfeit websites faster than the legitimate charities are able to respond. During these times of great need, the last thing anybody wants is for their donation to wind up helping some dirt bag with a drug addiction.
Personally, I feel that anyone who willingly prospers from a tragedy like the Japanese tsunami or the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of us. What they need is to take a fast trip down a long flight of stairs but that's for another blog post on a different day. Today, I'll leave the justice part with the capable hands of the Almighty and focus, instead, on ways to help you avoid getting fleeced.
Before sending your hard earned money consider the following-
- Never respond to an email that is directed to you requesting assistance. If you want to help, research charities and contact them directly.
- Never click on a link sent to you in an email. Research the charity you wish to support, find out what their official website address is and type it in the web browser yourself.
- Avoid newly formed charities-Most charities have to jump through a ton of hoops in order to be considered a legitimate charity. Organizations formed in response of an event should be highly suspect.
- Do not send supplies. Charities are quickly overwhelmed with supplies that they don't need. It is far more efficient for a charity to purchase in bulk than it is to handle and sort millions of individual care packages.
- Giving by text is extremely easy. Make sure you know, for sure, who your texting to, before sending that text. Realize it may take up to 90 days before the designated charity to ever sees a dime from your text donation.
- Let Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets inspire you... to research. Do not become overwhelmed by the images you see and give blindly. Know who your giving to and where the money is going to.
- Hang up on Telemarketers.
- Consult sites such as Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance to thoroughly research the organization before you send that check, credit card number, or text.