Disasters, like the earthquakes in Haiti, can bring out the best in people. But scammers often will try to take advantage of a disaster by tricking people into sending them money.
Scammers who use the U.S. Mail to misrepresent charities can be prosecuted. The penalty is a fine or up to five years’ imprisonment, or both. If a financial institution is affected, the penalty can include a fine of $1 million, imprisonment for up to 30 years, or both.
How can you tell which solicitations are legitimate and which are not? The U.S. Postal Inspection Service offers the following guidelines when donating to charities:
If you’re unfamiliar with the charity or if there is anything in the solicitation that makes you suspicious, ask for its annual report and financial statement.
Make checks payable to the organization only — never to an individual.
Be suspicious of solicitors who say they will accept your donation in cash only. Con artists want cash so there will be no paper trail for authorities to follow.
Report any suspicious organizations to your local Postmaster or Postal Inspector.
If you’re unfamiliar with an organization, or if the name is close but not the same as a well-known charity, you can check it out by visiting the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance website. Or write the Alliance at:
BBB Wise Giving Alliance
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203
Report any suspicious mail concerning relief charities for Haiti by calling the Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 and selecting option 5.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- St. Robert Annual Rummage Sale this Weekend
- Librarian Recounts Adventures in Rwanda, Sept. 25 at UWM
- Athleta Store at Bayshore Town Center Offering Free Classes
- Family Dinner Day 2015
- INTERFAITH HOSTING ANNUAL NEIGHBORHOOD OUTREACH FUNDRAISER TO SUPPORT SENIORS IN THE COMMUNITY
- See the World Up Close Without Leaving Home - Host with YFU USA!
- See How Fudge Is Made
- New Integrative Bodywork Practice Launches in Shorewood
- The 6th Annual Southeast WI Festival of Books Announces Keynote Speakers
- Seniors Oktoberfest Lunch