As the international community calls upon its residents to donate to the relief effort in the Philippines, Indiana Attorney General, Greg Zoeller issues a warning to Hoosier that all relief efforts may not be what they seem.

With reports of an estimated death toll around 4,000 just over a week after the Philippine nation was ravaged by one of, if not the largest, typhoons in recorded history, the small island country is in the very early stages of trying to put the pieces back together with what help they have received so far from such institutions as the United Nations.

As with any disaster and subsequent relief effort involving monetary transactions, there are those souless predators who prey on the devastation to pad their own pockets. I firmly believe the day will come where karma will catch up to them and they'll get what they deserve, but until that time it's up to us to do our due diligence and research any and all organizations offering to use our money for the greater good.

Attorney General Zoeller has offered Hoosiers the following suggestions before making a donation:

  • Donate to established organizations with a track record of organizing and providing disaster relief.
  • Initiate the donation yourself, rather than responding to online, direct mail or phone solicitations asking for money.
  • Watch out for charities with similar sounding names. Some phony charitable organizations use names that are very similar to those of respected organizations.
  • Pay by check. Don't send cash or a wire transfer as these are common ways schemers use to rip-off victims and avoid detection by law enforcement.
  • Visit www.CharityNavigator.org to assist in identifying legitimate relief organizations and determine how much of their donations are used to help victims rather than on administrative overhead.

[Source: WISH-TV]