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Avoid Charity Scams Blossoming from Typhoon Haiyan

Avoid Charity Scams from Typhoon Haiyan
13 million people have been affected, according to a report by OCHA.
IMG: via Shutterstock

As we saw last year with Superstorm Sandy, in the wake of tragedy we see two sides of the coin: incredibly generous people and unfortunately greedy ones. After Sandy hit last year, millions of dollars were “donated” with good intentions to charities that ended up being scam organizations. All that money, intended for victims who truly needed the support, was instead given to greedy individuals looking to capitalize off of others’ loss and generosity.

This year, the scale of devastation in the Philippines is far worse than what Sandy wrought. The need for aid is even more than it was, and thus far the delivery of said aid has been incredibly difficult. Those looking to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan should be cautious and careful in giving donations to avoid being scammed out of money.

Typhoon Haiyan is said to be the most powerful and destructive storm to ever hit land, and so far more than three thousand have been confirmed dead—with thousands more missing.

Check out Charity Navigator to see which nonprofits are well established and have a good track record for putting donations to good use. Charity Navigator also has a list of 22 organizations that are getting supplies and help to people in the Philippines—and that are safe to donate to. And never donate to groups that fall under these categories:

  1. Lots of promises with vague details on the organization itself
  2. Group is unknown or brand new
  3. A “victim” reaches out to you, and you don’t personally know them
  4. Offers of prizes or sweepstakes for donating
  5. Requests for sending cash rather than a traceable method of payment
  6. Requests for personal or financial information (unless you are positive the group is legitimate)
  7. Facebook groups that stir up emotions and ask for donations. Do research first to make sure the group is established.

Always check out the organization in question’s website as well. With every natural disaster, there are always fake websites that pop up for the sole purpose of scamming do-gooders. These sites are generally thin on content and details, whereas real nonprofit organizations won’t be.

If you are called by a telemarketer, always remember that you don’t have to donate and can terminate the conversation at any point. And if the group turns out to be real, you can always go to their website and donate at a later date.

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Profiles

Jessica Robles – From Shoplifter to Gracious Mom

Police Officer Vicki Thomas
Police Officer Vicki Thomas bought $100 worth of groceries for a single mom who was caught shoplifting food for her children.
IMG: via WSVN

Jessica Robles is a single mom with three kids and some tough decisions to make.  There are days they don’t eat.  There are days Robles feels completely hopeless and cries.  She recently made a choice that nobody should have to make.  She attempted to steal about $300 worth of food to feed her kids.

A police officer, Vicki Thomas, stopped her and charged her with a misdemeanor.  What she did next restores my faith in humanity.  Instead of berating her for making a bad choice, Thomas ended up buying her about $100 worth of groceries.

Thomas said, “Arresting her wasn’t going to solve the problem of her kids being hungry.”  The story ended up airing on channel seven news.  Suddenly people all around south Florida started calling in wanting to help out.  She collected $700 dollars to spend on food at Walmart.  The store said if there’s any money left over after she buys groceries, they will give her the leftover cash.

That’s not where the story ends though.  Another viewer called to let Jessica know that he had a possible job for her.  John Challner of phonedoctor.com interviewed Jessica for a customer service role.  He said he thought she’d make a great candidate and asked if she could start right away.  Of course, she accepted the job.

“There’s no words I could tell you right now (to tell) how grateful I am.  You know that you took your time and helped somebody out, especially somebody like me,” said Jessica to all the people who helped her along the way.

Her children, aged 2, 5, and 13 will have dinner tonight and for many nights to come.

Check out the video below:

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Organizations Profiles

The Ronald McDonald House Helps Families in Need

ronald mcdonald house
IMG: via rmhc-neo.org

The world can be a scary place for a sick child.  It can be even more frightening for the parents.  However, there is a place to calm these fears.  Ronald McDonald House is a “home-away-from-home” for families with sick children staying at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

It may be impossible to travel back and forth to a hospital if you live very far away.  Hotels can be expensive and impractical.  It is comforting to know there is a safe option.

From its start in 1983, Ronald McDonald House has expanded into countries around the world.  Their goal is to provide support and housing to families in need.

To read the organization’s entire profile, click here.

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Profiles Resources

Non-Bank Financial Companies

Non Banking Financial Companies
IMG: via aacs.in/nbfc.html

Most of the time when people think about borrowing or saving money or making investments, they think about banks. But banks are not always the only option for individuals dealing with capital. Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that are not legally banks, yet can provide many banking services to the public.

Though NBFCs cannot usually accept deposits from the public, they can still provide an array of services, such as giving out loans, funding educational costs, lending credit lines, providing retirement planning, and other investment services dealing with money markets and stocks. They also commonly provide real estate investments for companies.

In the past few years, the number of NBFCs has grown greatly, and they continue to pop into existence here and there. For example, Henry Kravis’ and George Roberts’ private equity company, KKR, recently partnered with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund to set up an NBFC that will primarily lend money for property developers in India.

This is particularly good news for developers, as loans have been harder and harder to come by during these hard economic times. Banks are becoming more hesitant to lend money for fear that it will not be paid back because of the economic slump; however, this only serves to exacerbate the problem by discouraging growth. NBFCs can help remedy the issue.

“The NBFC will offer structured debt to real estate companies and it is a good way to bring permanent, long-term debt and equity capital into the sector,” said one source close to the KKR and Singapore partnership.

Since public deposits cannot usually be accepted by NBFCs, they must find some other way to stay afloat. This is where companies like KKR come into play, since they lend the money needed to fund operations. When loans are repaid with interest, the investing companies earn back the money spent and then some, all the while helping to spur economic growth.