We all are deeply saddened by the tragic situation in Haiti. Many are motivated to help in any way they can, which usually means donating to charities that are able to more effectively bring relief to the suffering. At the same time, many see this as an opportunity to commit identity theft.

CBS News and TBG Fraud Solutions remind us to be aware of charity fraud and donate carefully.

In connection with the earthquake with in Haiti, the FBI suggests the following steps to avoid charity fraud:

  • 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.