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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Help victims of Typhoon Haiyan the best way we can

Thousands of people are suffering in the Philippines due to the one of the world’s worst disaster in the modern history. There are some alleged estimates that the number of deaths reached as high as 10,000 but as of the last count 2,000 are feared dead.

The devastating news lead every casual news consumer to contribute to any sort of financial aid. New technology and social media have made sending $1 or $10 to “charitable” organizations easier than ever.

“One of the problems is that we’ve entered into the digital age with a high level of trust,” Angie Barnett, president of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland, said.

Scam artists that meant to get money out of donations often get convincing photographs, or videos from the websites of reputable organizations to appear legitimate.

“Some have similar sounding names to big organizations… that’s a red flag,” Raymund Flandez, a staff writer covering the intersection of technology and charity for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, said.

THURSDAY @ 11 | Undeniable facts about an unregistered charity organization (click)

The “Red Cross of the United States” is not the same as the American Red Cross, for example.

The number of website addresses containing the words “Haiyan,” “typhoon,” “disaster aid,” “Philippines,” and “relief” has soared, Barnett said.

The aid delays for up to 2 million people in remote locations of the Philippines are melting the hearts and wallets across the country.

Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland released a list of the top five mistakes people make when donating to charity after a natural disaster.

• Do not make a donation decision only basing on the charity’s name and send donations to inexperienced relief efforts.

Stand by with one standard rule; don’t go with a charity in which the domain name contains the name of the disaster itself. So don’t give to “HaiyanRelief.com” or “HelpTheVictimsofHaiyan.com.”

“It could be a start-up group with little experience or a questionable effort seeking to gain confidence through its title,” Barnett said. “If in doubt, ask for the organization’s Form 990, a tax return charities file annually with the IRS. This form provides transparency in the dollars raised – and where they are directed.”

• Gather clothing and goods without verifying that items can be used.

Relief organizations often prefer to purchase goods near the location of the disaster to help speed the rate of delivery, according to the Better Business Bureau. Consider the cost of shipping extensive cargo long distances. Cash is king.


Facebook inserted a direct link to send $10 to the American Red Cross to provide aid for Haiyan relief as of November 13.The American Red Cross is among the most trusted organizations globally so it better to donate to them directly.

While this may not apply to Facebook, “Common tactics used by scam artists include phishing email with alleged links to disaster video which if clicked, releases malware into your personal computer,” according to the BBB. “Social media mentions of bogus donation websites which collect money and shut down without a trace.”

Barnett said scammers are in the business of “throwing up websites” and “collecting credit card numbers.”

• Do not donate without doing your homework

To make the vetting process easier, Flandez suggested the following three charity rating websites, which perform regular due diligence:

“More than that, do a Google search to see if they’ve made any strides in what they do. … That’s basic due diligence,” Flandez said

Readers can report possible charity scams here .

Guidestar spokeswoman Lindsay Nichols said, “We all give with our heart, but unless we give with our head too, we’re essentially wasting our hard-earned money.”

Guidestar’s tips for giving with your heart and your head can be found here .

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