Here's a timely reminder, courtesy of the Department of Public Safety: In your big-hearted desire to do what you can to help those devastated by the Haitian earthquake, don't become a victim of scammers and fraud artists.
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (SPAM) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
- Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from know senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
DPS also recommends checking out the InterAction Web site, which lists legitimate aid and humanitarian groups working in Haiti.