Dramatic images of victims from Nepal filling the TV screen may make many viewers want to donate to the victims.
But don’t let your heart cloud your better judgment. When it comes to donations, you also need to use your head.
Rachel Newman with the San Diego Better Business Bureau says this is a big opportunity for scam artists to take advantage of people who want to give to the victims.
“There are fake charities that sound a lot like charities that we are familiar with,” said Newman. "Those phony charities could be stealing personal information or simply taking advantage of the kindness of givers and stealing the money. Some of those charities will reach out over the phone or through email."
The F.B.I. warns consumers not to respond to any unsolicited email that is asking for money.
Be cautious of individuals claiming to represent victims, and if a person representing a charity tries to pressure you into giving or says they will pick up the money personally, do not give. Avoid cash donations and instead use a credit card or pay with a check. But make sure the check is made out to the charity and not to any individual person.
The American Red Cross says they will let you choose where your money goes.
“We do honor intent,” said Courtney Pendleton with the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross. “So if somebody does want to help specifically the victims and survivors of the Nepal earthquake, they can say Nepal Earthquake.”
As for checking out a specific charity, the Better Business Bureau suggests going to www.give.org to research the organization.
“Find out as much as you can about the people who are collecting your money and find out where your money is going to,” said Newman.
Experts also warn about crowd funding websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe where there is little oversight as how the money will be spent.