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Better Business Bureau: Scams popping up to help Japanese tsunami victims

March 19, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 18, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.


By Alan Bligh

Whenever there is a major natural disaster, there are two things you can count on: First is the generosity of Americans who donate time and money to help victims. Second is the appearance of poorly run and, in some cases, fraudulent charities.

The BBB offers the following tips to help Americans decide where to direct donations: Rely on respected experts to evaluate a charity. The BBB provides a Wise Giving Guide to charities at www.bbb.org.

Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations assist victims.

Find out if the charity has a presence in the impacted areas.

Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.

Remember gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations may not be appropriate.

Also when a natural disaster happens, cybercriminals pop up and take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. This is exactly what is happening with a recent scam making its way around Facebook. The scam artists create Facebook pages that have the title "Japanese Tsunami RAW Tidal Wave Footage!" and claim to contain videos of the Japanese tsunami videos. They use those videos to lure users to a malicious site where it triggers an automatic 'Like' site that asks for the user's personal information.

The reports from law enforcement indicate that schemers were profiting off phony website promotions just three hours after the earthquake. Maybe our slogan, "Today's headlines lead to tomorrow's scams" should be "Today's headlines lead to today's scams."

How do you watch TV?

Do you like watching TV on a computer or other non-TV device? If so you are in the majority. That's right, regular TV or cable viewing as we know it is now in the minority. This is according to a just-released consumer research study from Price-Waterhouse-Cooper. The study found that across all age groups, respondents watched 12.4 hours of TV shows or videos and movies online, while only 8.9 hours of such content was viewed on traditional TV. Not surprisingly, the 44 and under crowd do the majority of that digital viewing, but even the 45-59 age group was close to 50/50 online versus traditional viewing. The world of technology certainly has changed things and its moving faster by the minute.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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