(MONTGOMERY) - Attorney General Troy King is urging Alabamians to be generous, but cautious with their financial support for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Scam artists are constantly using news headlines to take advantage of victims. Recently, there have been many scams related to swine flu, Michael Jackson memorabilia, and to the latest stimulus package from Congress. Now, scam artists are moving on to the latest item in the headlines – the mass devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti.
"Alabamians are a compassionate and generous people. As always, they are rising to the occasion in this time of tragedy and need," said Attorney General King. "Sadly, times such as these also attract those who will scam and scheme to steal these funds. Our people should give. They should be compassionate. But they should always be cautious. Any dollar they allow to be stolen is a dollar diverted from its destination, it is relief that will not arrive, and it is pain that will not be alleviated."
Attorney General King suggests that contributors make sure they are dealing with charitable organizations they are familiar with, who have track records and histories that can easily be verified. Reputable and established relief organizations are more likely to be better equipped to assist victims faster and more effectively.
Attorney General King offered some points of advice when giving:
- Do not give cash. Contribute by check or money order made payable to the relief organization of your choice.
- Be wary of telephone, email, text message, or internet solicitations. Never give these solicitors any of your personal financial information such as your credit card numbers or checking account numbers. Only give financial information to reputable charities that you have researched yourself, and only in instances that YOU have initiated the first contact. Remember: scam artists can pretend to be associated with a reputable charity.
- Ask questions about how your contribution will be used and be concerned if there is any hesitation in the answer.
- Say no to high pressure appeals, especially those attempting to hurry you into making a contribution.
- Be wary of charities or organizations claiming to give 100 percent of the proceeds to the impacted area. Even non-profit organizations have, although minimal, administrative expenses.
- Be wary of giving to a charity that calls you and offers to come to your home and pickup your donation or appears at your home soliciting donations. Chances are your hard earned money will make it no further than the collector's pocket.
For more detailed guidelines and information, Attorney General King suggests logging on to www.give.org, the website for the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.