It often starts with a single e-mail, written by a person who claims to be stranded in The Philippines after last week's typhoon, and needs you to help them out with a loan so they can return to the states.
"They don't have access to money for at least seven days, and they're asking you, the e-mail recipient, to respond immediately with a credit card or some kind of payment information,” said Dale Dixon, CEO of the Idaho chapter of the Better Business Bureau.
Dixon says these e-mails have been popping up all over the place in just the last few days.
"It's a scam. Hit delete, don't respond,” Dixon said.
You should also be on the lookout for calls to action claiming to be from legitimate charities. Dixon says even these are sometimes no more than carefully-crafted scams.
"People will pretend to be legitimate charities on a regular basis, and they'll just change the name a little bit. So, for instance, we know and trust the Red Cross. So, they might try and do something like 'Red Cross of Americas in Philippines,'” Dixon said.
Before you give to any charity, always do your homework. Bbb.org offers free charity reports.
The following is a list of charities accredited by the BBB:
- Adventist Development and Relief Agency International
- AmeriCares Foundation
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- American Red Cross
- Catholic Relief Services
- ChildFund International
- Children International
- Direct Relief International
- Episcopal Relief and Development
- Feed The Children
- GlobalGIving Foundation
- Habitat for Humanity International
- Heifer International
- International Medical Corps
- Lutheran World Relief
- MAP International
- Mercy Corps
- Operation USA
- Oxfam America
- Plan International USA
- Save the Children Federation
- The Salvation Army
- United States Fund for UNICEF
- World Food Program USA
- World Vision
This is not an exhaustive list of legitimate charities that are aiding in typhoon relief. If you are considering one not on the list, go to www.give.org.