DOJ: News Release

Bullock Encourages Donations to Tsunami Relief Efforts, Warns of Scams

HELENA – In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan earlier this month, Attorney General Steve Bullock encouraged Montanans to donate to relief efforts to assist the survivors as they rebuild.

But Bullock also warned that there are criminals who prey on the kindness of those looking to help. Recent tragedies and natural disasters have prompted waves of scams claiming to be raising money for those in need of aid.

“The images coming out of Japan in the days since this disaster are riveting and heart-breaking. Our thoughts truly go out to the Japanese people and rescuers,” said Bullock, who oversees the Montana Office of Consumer Protection. “It’s unfortunate that scam artists seek to capitalize on tragedies like this to line their own pockets – but we cannot let them stifle the generosity of hard working Montanans. There are simple guidelines everyone can use to protect themselves and give the Japanese the help they need.”

Bullock encouraged Montanans wanting to assist in the relief efforts to donate to the international fund of the American Red Cross. Those looking to make an immediate contribution to the Red Cross can have $10 charged to their cell phone bill by texting “REDCROSS” to “90999.”

Bullock contributed to the American Red Cross this morning through the text messaging program. He also warned Montanans of scams in a facebook video today.

While many worthy charities are assisting Japan, Bullock encouraged Montanans to consider these guidelines before donating to questionable organizations purporting to help Japanese in need:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from senders you know.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf, to ensure your contribution is received and used for the intended purpose.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing that information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Bullock encouraged any Montanans who feel they may have contributed to an illegitimate charity or whose personal financial information may have been compromised to contact the Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500.

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