The problems following the recent devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan continue to increase with affected people in those areas of the world in great need of help. This kind of natural disaster brings out the best in us as many people are quick to make donations to charities to help the earthquake survivors and the families of the victims. This kind of natural disaster also brings out the worst in scammers who are quick to take advantage of the generosity of people by contacting them, posing as charities, but instead of collecting funds to help the victims of these natural disasters, the scam artists steal the money for themselves under false pretenses. Charities are not subject to the federal Do Not Call List so even if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call List, legitimate charities are able to contact you. The problem is that whenever you are contacted on the phone, you can never be sure as to who is really calling you so you may be contacted either by a phony charity or a scammer posing as a legitimate charity. Similarly, when you are solicited for a charitable contribution by email or text message, you cannot be sure as to whether the person contacting you is legitimate or not.
Never provide credit card information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called or in response to an email or text message. Before you give to any charity, you may wish to check out the charity with www.charitynavigator.org where you can learn whether or not the charity itself is a scam. You can also see how much of the money that the charity collects actually goes toward its charitable purposes and how much it uses for fund raising and administrative costs. If you do wish to make a donation to a charity, go to the real charity’s website or call them at a telephone number that you know is accurate in order to make your donation rather than responding to a telephone call or electronic communication. Charitynavigator.org lists some highly rated charities involved with earthquake relief, which you may wish to consider if you are thinking about making such a charitable gift. They are Global Giving, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, and the International Medical Corps. Below are links to their pages on Charitynavigator.org that describes the charities in detail as well as provide a link to make a donation if you are so inclined.