Don't fall for typhoon charity cons

Nov. 13, 2013 @ 05:45 PM

If you turn on your computer, check your cell phone or glance at your iPad and there’s a message from someone pleading for money because they are trapped while visiting the Philippines, chances are virtually certain that it’s a scam.

Indeed, in the wake of last week’s Typhoon Haiyan that wiped out parts of the southeast Asian nation, the worst of human nature has emerged along with the best. The best, of course, are the people from here and across America wanting to provide help to potentially hundreds of thousands of Filipinos whose lives have been devastated from the storm.
But the calamity, as with others in the past, opens opportunities for con artists to take advantage of someone’s inclination for goodwill to rip off unsuspecting people in the wake of a disaster.
Consumer advocates, such as the N.C. Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau of Central North Carolina, say they haven’t seen extensive Typhoon Haiyan scams as of yet.
“But expect them to happen as they have after similar natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the Haiti earthquake,” said Noelle Talley, public information officer with the Attorney General’s Office in Raleigh. “It’s a shame to think that people would use a tragedy like this to rip off others, but we know it’s a real possibility.”
The typhoon should remind people about wise approaches to charitable giving, said Tom Corrigan, communications director with the local Better Business Bureau office. Here are some tips about donating wisely:
• Be cautious when giving online. Watch out for electronic messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you want to give to a charitable organization, go directly and independently to the charity’s website.
• Watch out for pushy telemarketers who cold call you about donating and pressure you for a credit or debit card number. If you want to donate, find and call the charity’s number on your own.
• Be wary of unsolicited emails, text messages or social media posts asking for contributions. Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be a trick directing you to a copycat website. If you want to donate, contact the charity directly at a website or phone number you’ve determined to be valid.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528

 

Legitimate charities and other groups are offering ways to help victims of the Philippines typhoon:
• CARE is accepting donations online (www.care.org/emergencies/typhoon-haiyan) or by calling 1-800-521-CARE
• The American Red Cross is coordinating international donations — contribute online (www.redcross.org) or by calling 1-800-733-2767
• The mGive Foundation uses U.S. mobile phones to raise funds — text AID to 80108 to provide a $10 donation to the organization’s Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund
• Apple is giving iTunes users a chance to donate to relief efforts — customers can go to the iTunes store to donate to the Red Cross