Everybody from radio cabs to kids with banners has jumped onto the "Help Nepal” fund collection drive. We have no way of knowing if and when the donations will actually reach the earthquake victims. Such charity-scams for calamities are a global phenomenon. Consumer Affairs, an international NGO has also issued a warning about fake charities and phishing messages collecting for Nepal
Consumer Affairs, a US-based consumer news and advocacy site has warned about fake charities collecting money to help victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal. Some scamsters pose as legitimate charities and send out phishing bait messages. In India too, everybody from radio cabs to groups of kids with banners have jumped into the "Help Nepal" collection drive. It is not clear when and how this money and other donations will reach the earthquake victims and whether those collecting funds have the ability to do so. In the past, there have been several instances when organisations that raised money to support disasters, sat on the funds for months instead of transferring them to the needy.
Consumer Affairs, citing a report from Give.org, which has issued a warning asking donors to avoid being taken advantage of by questionable solicitations or wasting their money on poorly managed relief efforts’ connected to the earthquake." Give.org is the website maintained by the Better Business Bureau's 'Wise Giving Alliance' (WGA), which essentially rates charities same way the BBB rates businesses. Yesterday, the WGA issued a warning
'advis[ing] donors to avoid being taken advantage of by questionable solicitations or wasting their money on poorly managed relief efforts’ connected to the earthquake."
Along with the warning, Give.org posted an alphabetised list of BBB/WGA-accredited charities currently collecting contributions for relief efforts in Nepal. The report says. 'If you want to donate to a charity, check first to see if that charity is on the list’.
The same warning applies to India too, where the need to support Nepal, our immediate neighbour and one of the most visited tourist destinations for Indians, has fired up the people. Global experience would suggest that a variety of scamsters and charlatans use disasters to prey on people and exploit their emotional need to reach out and help people in trouble.
While donations of food, water, money and equipment is on full swing across the country, please pause to find out if the organisation you are donating to, actually has the means to transport it to Nepal and ensure its proper distribution. As for now, the Indian Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are best equipped to the relief work. On Wednesday, the Indian government bolstered the strength of the NDRF team in Nepal by sanctioning two new battalions comprising 2,000 personnel to it. At present, NDRF, which is carrying out salvage operations in quake hit Nepal and in some parts of India, has 10 battalions.
In this situation, if somebody really wants to help the victims in Nepal and contribute toward the relief operation, they can do so by donating to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. With the PM Narendra Modi being so pro-active, the PM Relief Fund is the best options for helping Nepal.
According to The Guardian, one of the biggest problems with relief work is that it is a free-for-all. "Anyone who wants to, and who is privileged enough to afford a plane ticket, can pitch up. Unlike doctors or engineers, who need to train for years to gain qualifications that prove they probably know what they’re doing, no such qualification exists for aid workers. What Nepal needs right now is not another untrained bystander, however much her heart is hurting."
The article advises people not to donate stuff, especially secondhanad godds as they are difficult to distribute. Instead one should sell the stuff and donate money to relief fund. "Donate what you can, to a reputable relief organisation, and do research to find out where your money will go. If you can, compare a few organisations with aid appeals and ensure that you agree with their approach," the article says.
Consumer Affairs have also warned about phishing scams advising people to take all the standard precautions against phishing scams. “Phishing is basically the online-scam equivalent of ‘impersonation’: a phisher will send you an email claiming to be from somebody else — anybody from your bank to Netflix
to the IRS or some other government agency — in hope of tricking you into handing over your money, or your passwords or other confidential information,” it says.
According to the new advocacy portal, the best way to defend yourself against phishers is to follow the communication rule “Don't call me
; I'll call you.” It says, “Suppose, for example, you think there might be a problem with your Netflix account. Under those circumstances, you should definitely contact Netflix and speak to a representative about it. But if you get an out-of-the-blue email, purportedly from Netflix, warning you about a problem you didn't even know you had — don't believe it. That message almost certainly is not from Netflix, but from a phisher.”
“A similar ‘Don't call me; I'll call you’ applies to charitable giving. If you want to donate to a charity helping Nepalese earthquake victims, you should reach out to contact that charity (after first confirming it is on the WGA/BBB's accredited-charity list
). However, do not respond to any emails or text messages purporting to seek donations on behalf of any such charity, and if you receive such messages, do not click on any links or download any attachments they might have. Better yet, do not open such messages at all; just delete them immediately,” Consumer Affairs concluded.