Our thoughts and prayers have been with the citizens of Japan after the terrible disaster they are working to overcome.
These trying times tend to bring out the best side of humanity; when it’s important we can and will give of ourselves to help those who truely need it. Sadly, these times can also bring out the worst side of people as well.
It pains me to say it, but when you or anyone else decides to donate to the relief fund for Japan it is vital that you make sure that the website is legitimate. There are always a few scammers looking to take advantage of any bad situation, and it can be easy to trick people into donating to a website that has nothing to do with Japan. When you decide to donate online, I would highly recommend doing so through this website: www.usaid.gov/japanquake.
There you will find a clear spot to click that will redirect you to an approved list of charities. Donating to these charities will ensure that your contributions will get where you want them to go. Keep in mind that this list provided by USAID is by no means the only option you have when it comes to donating. If you have another trusted organization of choice, feel free to donate to them.
As always, most phony websites will have a few tells.
First off, look for professionalism. A website that looks shoddy, and especially a website with a good amount of spelling or grammar mistakes is very suspicious. Next, look for any page that doesn’t have https:// in the address line (as opposed to http://) for the page where you are actually putting in your payment information.
As I’ve talked about previous, the “s” in https stands for secure. Any page that doesn’t use this when you are about to submit them financial information is almost certainly not a site you want to give your financial information to anyway.
Finally, try and make sure that you are actually on the website you think you are on. If you visit a website in an atypical way (like through an email link), it’s possible you are on a look-alike scam website.
If you have any reason to doubt that you are on the real thing, leave immediately and return the website the way you normally do.
Donating online isn’t riskfree, but please don’t let that deter you from doing so, especially when the need is so great.
Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.