Local firms raise funds for Haiti aid

United Way of San Luis Obispo is teaming with Mission Community Bank and Barnett Cox & Associates to raise money for Haiti’s earthquake victims.

The money will be distributed through the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund, which helps with long-term recovery efforts.

Donations can be made to the United Way of San Luis Obispo County’s Haitian Relief Fund at Mission Community Bank.

Contributions can be made by mail or in person at the Mission Community Bank branches in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria. Barnett Cox also has a collection center at its offices at 711 Tank Farm Road, Suite 210.

Meanwhile, the FBI is urging Internet users to carefully consider when to respond to appeals to donate money to earthquake victims in Haiti. In past tragedies, criminals have solicited contributions in the name of fake charities.

Internet users should not respond to unsolicited incoming e-mails, be wary of individuals claiming to be surviving victims asking for donations and verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations.

Also be skeptical of e-mails claiming to have photos of disaster areas; they may contain viruses. Do not give out any personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud should notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.