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!
- Tips To Give Your Dog a Balanced Diet
- Prometheus Trio To Open Free Concert Series
- Shorewood Library Celebrates Seuss this Saturday
- Glendale Seniors' 42nd Anniversary Party Coming Up
- Zymbiotics a New Local Company Making Fine Fermented Foods is Now Available at Outpost Coop
- Libertarians plan for 2016 by offering cross-party appeal.
- Inspired by Love of Their Country, Local Contractor Gifts Veteran Family New Furnace to Help Them through Harsh Winter
- Diabetes and oral health in Milwaukee’s Mexican-American community
- Farmers Market and Local Harvest Breakfast Fundraiser to Support Family Farms
- Milwaukee/NARI Announces Availability of 2015 Membership Directory