How to help the earthquake victims in Ecuador and Japan

The devastation caused by earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan have left people asking how they can help.

If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren't entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.

If you’re asked to make a charitable donation, consider these tips: 

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. You want to find a charity with a proven track record with dealing with disasters.
  • Designate the disaster. Charities may give the option to designate your giving to a specific disaster. That way, you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in e-mails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate or have been vetted. Research the charitable organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, first confirm the number with the source. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but be aware that text donations are not immediate. Depending on the text message service used by the charity, it can take as much as 90 days for the charity to receive the funds.

For more on the questions to ask and for a list of groups that can help you research a charity, go to Charity Scams.

Tagged with: charity, disaster, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Thank you so much. Generally my donations in time of disaster go to the American Red Cross, but I definitely appreciate all these tips. Thank you.

I know about the scams; I want a list of reliable organizations that are aiding victims of recent earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador.

To look into charities by topic or area of expertise, use the resources listed in the blog:  Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.

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