Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Warns Kentucky Consumers about Haitian Disaster Relief Scams

Press Release Date:  Friday, January 15, 2010  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


As Kentuckians open their hearts and pocketbooks to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, Attorney General Jack Conway warns that scammers may try to prey on their generosity. He asks that Kentucky consumers choose carefully when considering urgent appeals for aid that may come through emails, social networking sites or even direct calls.

“I want to ensure that the generosity of Kentuckians is felt by those who are in desperate need of aid, and not lining the pockets of unscrupulous scam artists,” said General Conway. “By donating to established organizations, your donation can make a difference for the scores of men, women and children of Haiti whose lives have been devastated by Tuesday’s earthquake.”

Before making a donation, General Conway recommends following these tips:

  • Donate to recognized charities that you have given to before.
  • Avoid responding to unsolicited incoming emails including clicking links contained within those messages as they could contain viruses.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims.
  • Remember that charitable solicitors take a portion of the proceeds to cover their costs, which leaves less for victim assistance.
  • Utilize online resources to research charities before making a donation.
  • Avoid giving or sending cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card and write the official name of the charity on your check.
  • Never give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.

For those who want to lend their immediate assistance to the Haitian relief effort, the U.S. State Department has offered the following information:

  • Text “HAITI” to “90999” and a $10 donation will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts. The donation will be charged to your cell phone bill.
  • You can go online to organizations like the Red Cross at http://tinyurl.com/ycrzorp or Mercy Corps at http://tinyurl.com/yeo3p2y to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.
  • Those interested in providing assistance can also contact the Center for International Disaster Information at http://www.cidi.org/

The State Department Operations Center has also set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747.  You also may inquire about family members by sending an e-mail to Haiti-Earthquake@State.Gov.

If you have been a victim of a consumer scam, help is available by contacting the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or visit http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/complaints/

To research a particular charity, visit http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/charity/ .  Through the Office of the Attorney General’s website, consumers can find out if a charity is registered, what percentage of the donation actually goes to the charity and what percentage goes to a paid solicitor.