This past Tuesday a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti devastating the region and displacing millions. It is estimated that over 100,000 people have lost their lives and scores more have been injured. However, those numbers are only speculation since, at this time, recovery is on-going. Citizens and rescuers have been furiously digging through rubble but it will take some time as the destruction is so widespread.
Meanwhile, countries all over the world have sent supplies and personnel to Haiti to aid those affected. Groups and individuals here at home have given donations and expressed a desire to go to Haiti to help. However, authorities have said the best way to help at this time is to donate to a legitimate organization helping with the Haiti relief.
If you plan to donate to the Haiti relief effort please make sure you’re giving to a known, legitimate organization. As we all know, when things like this happen there are millions of people who step up and do what they can do to help but there are also those who take advantage of the situation. There are freaks like Pat Roberston (who use tragedy as a means to grandstand and talk about biblical condemnation. Where’s your compassion?) Then there are the ever-present scam artists. The following is from an email I received this morning:
The FBI today reminds Internet users who receive appeals to donate money in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before responding to those requests. Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.
Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
- Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the IC3 via www.ic3.gov.
It’s a shame this stuff happens but since it does we must be diligent. If you’re still not sure about where to donate, let me help you out. The RED CROSS is always a safe bet. Matter of fact, you can donate $10 to the Haiti relief via your cell phone by texting Haiti to 90999. The $10 will be added to your phone bill. You can also check out InterAction’s site for a list of legitimate organizations collecting donations.
The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747. You can also check out the International Red Cross site which has a link for locating family members.
I’m hoping, for their sake, things look worse over there than they actually are. In any case my thoughts are with the Haitian people and my heart goes out to them for what they’re having to suffer through. May their recovery be swift.