This is EXCELLENT advice on how to donate to relief and charity organizations online.Microsoft Security: "Give with Care" and safelyhttp://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/e.../donations.mspxQUOTE:
In times of crisis, people increasingly use the Internet to contribute money quickly to aid organizations such as Red Cross/Red Crescent, Mercy Corps, UNICEF, and many others that provide relief to victims worldwide.
Unfortunately, while it has made donating easier, the Web has also led to an increase in online donation scams that play on our conscience. In our effort to lend aid quickly, many of us set aside our cynicism and become more susceptible to these false solicitations. In addition to conning givers out of their money, donation fraud also takes its toll on legitimate groups, denying them funds for relief efforts and cheating real disaster victims.TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID ONLINE SCAMS
• Improve your computer's security
and use current technology to help block spam.
• Be on guard if you receive an unsolicited e-mail
from a charitable organization asking for money. Don't be too quick to click any links or enter any personal information.
• Instead of responding to solicitations, proactively contact well-known and established charity agencies that you or people you trust
have used before.
• If you do receive an e-mail request from a charity you'd like to support, go to their Web site or call them personally for verification
and to find out how to contribute.
• While online, manually type in the aid organization's address
into your Internet browser.
• Double-check the spelling of the organization's Web site
, and get in the habit of always looking at the actual Internet address, for example, "http://www.redcross.org
before you continue browsing a Web site. Spoofed Web sites often use deliberate, easily overlooked misspellings to deceive users.
• Be wary of e-mails from strangers or unknown sources
, especially those claiming to have attached photos of disaster victims or areas—these attachments could be infected with computer viruses or worse.
• If you provide your credit card number or personal information to a charity-related Web site, make sure current encryption technology is used
and that there is a written policy about protecting personal information.
• Keep up to date on the latest online scams
through trusted technology news providers, government agencies, and other professional sources.