Monday, December 01, 2008

Avoiding Charity Fraud

HHG Note: Tis the season to think of others. Fa la la la. Make sure your good deeds are given to legitimate charities. Fa la la la la.

(SPM Wire) In good times and in bad, Americans like to give charity. Unfortunately, some criminals try to take advantage of this generosity by illegally soliciting contributions, claiming to represent legitimate charities.

"If you want your money to go to a good cause, exercise caution to ensure it gets to those in need," says FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.

The FBI provides the following advice:

* Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.

* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.

* Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

* Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

* To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.

* Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's Web site rather than following an alleged link to the site.

* Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the organization's existence.

* Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

For more information about cyberscams, visit

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