Oklahoma officials warn of scams following Hurricane Harvey

Scammers and legit charities may be difficult to spot. Here are some tips

When disaster hits, it's human nature to want to help.

"In-kind drives for food and clothing, while well intentioned, may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need - unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to distribute such aid properly", the BBB said.

Scam charities raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the aftermath of 2012's Hurricane Sandy, and they are likely to try it again now. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor's identity and money.

Here's are tips from legitimate sources, such as the Federal Trade Commission's web site, on how to safely donate to Harvey relief efforts. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.

Cash donations allow charities to buy relief products local or regionally, which reduces shipping costs and allows relief organizers more flexibility than donated goods. Sham charities and fundraising campaigns will pop up online, and even well-meaning charity drives can hinder the work of professional organizations and trained disaster relief organizers. However, Charity Navigator suggests that instead of boxing up and sending your gently used clothing, you should hold a garage sale and send the proceeds to a group that can help more directly.


-If you would like to make a donation, go to the website of the charity of your choice and make a donation.

Confirm that the charity has authorized donations via text message - and keep in mind that your contribution may not reach the charity until after your phone bill is paid. Do not click on any links in emails or texts that you might receive.

-Never send cash: you can not be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you will not have a record for tax purposes. They might be fake. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance has charity reports on thousands of US charities.

Finally, if you want to roll up your sleeves and see the transparency rating, organizational structure, finances and how much money a particular charity actually pays out to people in need, GuideStar can give you valuable information to help ensure your donation gets in the hands of people needing it the most. If you believe a scam may be taking place, you can contact the BBB to report what you know.

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