Tsunami Relief Effort: Give Wisely

The catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis that have occurred in South Asia and East Africa have left tens of thousands of victims in desperate need of assistance. Texans are extremely generous in times of need, and while we have no reports of attempted charity scams relating to this disaster, we offer the following information to help you ensure that your gift goes where it will do the most good.

As you may know, President George W. Bush has designated former Presidents Bush and Clinton to encourage charitable giving by private parties. The two former presidents have asked Americans to donate directly to reliable charities already providing help to tsunami victims. A list of these organizations can be found at www.usafreedomcorps.gov.

Charitable efforts are also being announced through numerous media sources. If you have any questions about the quality or authenticity of a charitable effort, contact www.give.org for information. Give.org is a web site maintained by the Council of Better Business Bureaus to promote wise charitable giving. Also, remember to confirm the tax-exempt status of any organization to which you choose to make a donation.

I hope this information about charitable options is helpful to you in your individual response to the victims of this devastating natural disaster.

Thank you.

General Abbott's signature
Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas

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ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.

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