Is a Charity Legitimate?

Discover whether a specific charity is real — and more:
Internet ScamBusters #28

Let’s get going with the snippets…

Is a Specific Charity Legitimate?
If you’re trying to figure out whether or not some particular charity is worthy of support, check out:
They publish their standards for rating charities, and then rate over 400 different charities using these standards.

eBay Announces Five Initiatives to Deal with Fraud
There was a very interesting article on Friday (January 15, 1999) in the “Wall Street Journal” called “How eBay Will Battle Sham Bids, Mislabeling.”

Susan Grant, an Internet fraud specialist at the National Consumers League in Washington DC says her non-profit organization gets 600 Internet fraud complaints a month. Since, two thirds of these complaints involve online auctions, this is an important topic for Internet ScamBusters.

According to Margaret Whitman, CEO of eBay, only 27 auctions per million generate a fraud complaint to her company. Naturally, eBay wants to drive that number down as low as possible.

Until now, the primary way of gauging a buyer or seller’s reliability on eBay has been the feedback from other members. Members can submit evaluations about one another, which are labeled as positive or negative. They are then tallied to generate a score for each member. Ratings of plus 10 or better are rewarded with a star. People who get scores of minus four or worse are evicted from eBay.

According to the WSJ, the feedback system at eBay has at times been strained. “Some users have pumped up their scores by getting friends to submit positive feedback, even though they haven’t actually done business together on eBay.” And some users have not provided negative feedback because they’ve been afraid that they’d get negatively evaluated in retaliation.

To improve its rating system, eBay is changing its score-keeping formula so it only counts feedback related to actual transactions. In addition, eBay is implementing these five initiatives to reduce fraud:

  1. Provide customers with free insurance against fraud or mislabeling of goods, with a $25 deductible and $200 of coverage.
  • Make it easier for customers to take advantage of independent escrow services, especially for large transactions.
  • Allow users the option of having their identities verified by an independent party, Equifax Inc.
  • Ban sellers from bidding in their own auctions.
  • Establish stronger sanctions against bidders who win an auction and then don’t pay for the item.

We applaud eBay for taking these steps to help reduce fraud.

Nigerian Fee scam update
This scam never goes away, but it is certainly being promoted vigorously now.

We hear that ministers and non-profits are especially vulnerable to the Nigerian Fee scam. It can be fatal, so please don’t fall for this one. We reviewed this scam two years ago. Visit the Internet ScamBusters archives for more information at our Nigerian Scam page.

Urban Legends
The San Fernando Valley Folklore Society has an interesting site where you can check out whether or not an email Urban Legend contains any truth. They identify each legend, and then rate whether it contains any truth or not. You can search for specific legends, and sign up for email notification about new legends.

Computer Virus Myths and Hoaxes
Rob Rosenberger’s Computer Virus Myths site is an excellent site to visit if you want to know whether or not a computer virus threat is real or just a hoax. Visit:

For some excellent humor on computer viruses, see Bob Rankin’s “Subject: Warning, Danger!” It combines many of the most common virus hoaxes into one very funny email. Visit: