As our hearts and donations go out to Japan, scammers are going after our wallets.
There's no question you should give generously, but you're being urged to do it wisely.
Whenever there's a natural disaster giving people want to help. Barb Billinghurst plans to send her donations in online, later this week.
“Red Cross and Mercy Corps- Those are the two we're donating to.”
Spokeswoman for The Washington Attorney General’s Office, Kristin Alexander says scam artists will use the opportunity to prey on that generosity.
“We saw it with Katrina, and Haiti, we're going to see it with Japan.”
In the wake of The Hurricane Katrina disaster, The FBI tracked 4,000 phony charity websites.
Since Japan's earthquake, one agency has already found 50 fake domains trying to take advantage of people's rush to make donations.
“Scammers are gobbling up domain names, setting up look alike websites, and phony sounding names with hopes you'll click through and give them your money.”
The Washington Attorney General's Office urges you to give wisely, to those organizations you know well,
Like World Vision, Mercy Corps, Convoy of Hope, Doctors Without Borders, Global Giving, Save The Children, and The American Red Cross, to name a few.
American Red Cross spokeswoman, Katherine Boury says,
“The best thing if people want to help is a financial donation. Go to the website online, or you can text to help.”
Boury says The Japanese Red Cross is amazingly well prepared.
“They're going through a big assessment right now to determine what they need. They are well-equipped with staff, volunteers and resources, so our roles are to support the Japanese Red Cross.”
Whichever agency you choose to support, Alexander says you need to do your research.
“You want to make sure you're giving to a charity you are familiar with, and you know exactly how your money is being used, and how much is going directly to the victim. “
How do you know? Go online to Washington's Secretary of State's website. Plug in the name of the charity, to see if it's registered. You can also see the percentage of how much went to the actual cause.
“ Generally speaking you want it so 70 to 80 percent goes to the actual charity or program services, and that only a smaller amount is kept for overhead.”
We’ve got several links for you-
This first one is for the Washington Secretary of State’s Charities Program
If you want to text your donation to a legitimate charity, go to this link