Charity scams are increasing

BY PJ HELLER | WASHINGTON | September 19, 2001



"Everyone wants to be generous at this time, but you can't believe everything people tell you."

—Bob Manista


With dozens of new groups springing up nearly every day to collect

money for rescue and relief efforts in the wake of the attacks on the

World Trade Center and the Pentagon, authorities suggest the public

exercise some caution before making a contribution.

"Ask where the money is going and how it is being directed," advises

Pat Foster of the Salvation Army's Greater New York Division.

"Everyone wants to be generous at this time, but you can't believe

everything people tell you, and you can't believe everything you see

on the Internet," added Bob Manista of the Better Business Bureau.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, more than $200 million has been

collected by charitable organizations. Contributions range from

pennies children have collected in their classrooms to the millions

of dollars donated by corporate America.

As Americans open their hearts and their wallets to aid the injured

and the families of those killed, warnings are being sounded about

fake disaster relief charities that are emerging.

Better Business Bureaus around the U.S. report receiving a growing

number of telephone calls from people concerned about telephone

solicitors seeking charitable donations. Many of those 'charities'

have turned out to be fake.

Concerns have also been raised overseas by those being solicited for

contributions.

Authorities also cautioned about computer scams, where people receive

an e-mail message to go to a particular web site to enter their

credit card numbers for donations. Social Security numbers should

never be given out, they warned.

"Unless you know for certain that the organization is legitimate, I

advise against giving out that type of information," said U.S. Sen.

Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

That is also the advice of Michigan Attorney General Jennifer M. Granholm.

"For most of us, times of tragedy and crises bring out the best in

our American character; for some, however, it brings out the very

worst," she said. "It's sad, but true, that there are some

individuals out there taking advantage of Americans' generosity by

lining their own pockets.

"To help ensure that funds donated for the relief effort are put to

proper use, I urge citizens to be generous, but to be careful," she

said. "Citizens should deal only with established, recognized

charities . . ."

Despite the warnings, there have been reports of telemarketers posing

as charities and obtaining credit card numbers from unwary citizens.

"The bottom line is, we're telling people, 'Don't give your credit

card number out over the phone," said a spokesperson with the Florida

Department of Law Enforcement.

Among advice being offered is to make donations by check or money

order, not cash, and made the payment out to the charitable

organization, not the individual collecting the funds.

Several Internet Web sites offer advice on how to check on a charity.

Among the sites are www.guidestar.org and www.scambusters.org and

www.give.org.


Related Topics:

Counseling, prayers offered in bombing wake

Churches respond to Boston bombings

Make sure your donation counts


More links on How to Help

More links on Terrorism

 

Related Links:

Disaster News Hints on How To Help

Guidestar - The National Database of Nonprofit Organizations

Internet ScamBusters

Give.org

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