Experts recommend caution when making donations

With so much news about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, many people will compelled to donate to relief efforts.

Experts recommend that people making donations be very careful. Thursday's Washington Post reports that phony web sites and scam e-mail messages are already floating around the Internet, seeking donations for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.  An FBI official quoted in the story offered this advice: "People who want to make a donation or contribute to a cause should actively seek out reputable organizations and then contact them by telephone or by typing their web address into a web browser. The important point is that they initiate this contact on their own."

Before giving, consider calling your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) or charity registration office (which is usually a division of the state attorney general's office).  Information on national charities is available from the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance at 800-575-4483 or