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Five tips to avoid Haiti relief scams

The aftermath of natural disasters often bring out the scammers and con artists. Here are five tips to avoid Haiti relief scams and make sure your donations make a difference.

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Within 24 hours of the Haitian earthquake, scammers were at work trying to profit from the disaster. The scams ranged from e-mails asking donors for help to phone calls soliciting funds to phony relief websites harvesting credit card numbers.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, there are two things you can count on, says Art Taylor, president of the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, a nonprofit consumer group. "The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims, and the second is the appearance of poorly run, and in some cases fraudulent, charities," he says in a statement on the group’s Website.

More than 400 Internet addresses related to Haiti have been registered since Monday's devastating quake, Internet security expert Joel Esler told ABC News. Some of those websites may be legitimate, but many others are fraudulent.

“Not only do Americans need to be concerned about avoiding fraud, they also need to make sure their money goes to competent relief organizations that are equipped and experienced to handle the unique challenges of providing assistance,” Taylor says.

Here are five tips, culled from information from the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Better Business Bureau, to ensure your donation reaches its destination:


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