Before you write your check, check them out - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Before you write your check, check them out

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - The massive relief effort is already underway in Haiti.  But the Better Business Bureau warned not everyone is equipped to help, and some are only out to commit fraud.

"Usually in these situations, [scammers] come out of the woodwork," said Mechele Agbayani with the East Texas Better Business Bureau.

Tweets, and re tweets on Twitter have been debunked.  Someone claimed that UPS was shipping packages 50 lbs. or lighter for free to Haiti.  Some tweets claimed certain airlines were flying in relief workers for free.  Both were confirmed as hoaxes.

"You want to be cautious when you're receiving information from a third party," said Agbayani.  "If you're getting it from a blog, or from a text, or an email, go to the source and make sure that it's legitimate."

Agbayani said you should also be wary of charities' claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.  Most charities also have administrative costs. 

The web site evaluates and rates charities across the country.  You can look up background information, how much money the charities took in, and what they've spent.  

Another tip:  if you'd like your donations to make it to the disaster zone quickly, look to see which charities are on the ground, now.  Many charities had a presence in Haiti before the earthquake hit.

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