Natural disasters, such as the massive bushfires in Australia and the recent earthquake and aftershocks in Puerto Rico have been devastating. Natural disasters such as these bring out the best in people who want to donate to charities to help the victims. Unfortunately natural disasters also bring 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 the storms, these 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 http://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. Charity Navigator has a listing of specific charities that it has vetted that are good choices for anyone wishing to help the victims of the Australia bushfires and the Puerto Rico earthquake. Among the charities recommended by Charity Navigator for the Australian bushfires are GlobalGiving and Direct Relief. Among the charities recommended by Charity Navigator for the Puerto Rico earthquake are Mercy Corps and Hispanic Federation. You can find specific information about these charities and other recommended charities at http://www.charitynavigator.org.
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