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Sending Relief Donations to Legitimate Aid Organizations

With last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, donations are pouring into aid organizations from around the world. But as Wendy Siegle reports — how can you make sure your money is going to a reputable organization, and not to some scam?


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Right now organizations across the globe are setting up relief funds to help the victims of last Friday’s natural disaster that ravaged Japan. Most of them are legitimate. But there are scammers out there too — people who, during a time of crisis, prey on the charitable in order to make a buck. Anne Herlocker is with the YMCA of Greater Houston.

“Any time a natural disaster occurs there’s the chance that someone’s going to create a bogus charity that doesn’t actually exist to try to get money. So it’s always good for any potential donor to do research surrounding the non-profit that they want to give money to.”

Herlocker says people should surf the web to investigate the organization before sending money. She recommends visiting The site ranks and evaluates charities, though not every charity is represented. Herlocker says to avoid donating by email.

“I would be leery of any email solicitations, in my honest opinion, especially unsolicited emails that you haven’t signed up for say if you think you’re getting an email from a certain organization but you’ve never signed up on a list for them, you may want to avoid those.”

And she offers this pretty straight-forward tip:

“Never send your credit card information directly in an email.”

She says legit organizations have secure websites where donors can make their contribution safely. The rule of thumb is to always error on the side of caution if you want to make sure you’re money is going where it’s intended.

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