So how do we figure out if the appeal is real? Because even those we trust could be duped into supporting a charity that is a scam.
Here are few quick tips I can offer, if you have any other quick ideas, please let me know in the comments.
As a guinea pig I’ve chosen a site www.HeartsOnHaiti.com that an acquaintance of mine on LinkedIn sent to me. I don’t know this person very well, so I’m a little suspect. Here are the steps I took to verify the charity in my mind:
- Look up the Who Is file for the site. Google “who is” or simply use the excellent http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search This will tell you the registered owner and more importantly it will tell you how long the website name has been registered. In the sample below we can see that this domain name was created on 18-Dec-2001- That’s good news!
Created On:18-Dec-2001 16:52:21 UTC Last Updated On:06-Dec-2009 01:45:46 UTC Expiration Date:18-Dec-2010 16:52:21 UTC Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
- Second we may want to look at traffic for the site using either Alexa.com or Compete.com. Alexa only offers detailed traffic on the top 100,000 websites, so it’s not likely to have much info. But Compete.com often has more info. In this case Compete shows that the site had a spike in traffic last May. I don’t know why that happened, but that shows me the site was running before the quake.
- And finally you can ask Google for lots of information about a site use the following advanced Google search operators
link:website.com This will tell you which sites link to the site you are interested in.
related:website.com Tells you other websites that Google thinks are similar to that site.
info:website.com Tells you what Google knows about the site.
Using these pieces of information I was able to determine in under one minute that Hearts With Haiti is a legitimate site. I also tried to use the Wayback Machine which will show you archived copies of older versions of a website, but it was down.
Please leave your suggestions for other ways to improve this technique in the comments below: