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Avoid scams when giving to Hurricane Harvey victims

Posted August 29

— Hurricane Harvey victims are in desperate need, and many people around the world want to donate. But scammers are just as aware of that and are already trying to take advantage of the opportunity.

Be wary of people who want you to click on email and social media links that lead to malware, spam and scams.

Messages about ways to help victims of Hurricane Harvey are all over Twitter and Facebook, and plenty of heartbreaking stories will soon join these fundraising pages on GoFundMe.

Many are legitimate, but many others are not.

To protect yourself, start with online research like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Give.org from the Better Business Bureau. By entering the charity name, you can learn about a charity and determine whether it is legitimate or not.

To ensure your help quickly gets to the people who need it, make sure a charity already has staff on the ground in the affected area.

Watch out for sound-alike names. Phony charities often use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations.

With Crowdfunding, some sites do very little to vet the claims of those asking for money. Those donation sites are usually best for cases that involve  people you know.

Never send or give cash donations which are easily lost or stolen. For security and tax purposes, it's best to always pay by credit card.

If you give online, make sure the site is secure. A website should have a lock icon or a URL that begins with "https:"

Be wary of telemarketers who call on behalf of organizations, even when that organization is legitimate, because a large chunk of your gift may go to the for-profit telemarketer.

There are many legitimate efforts underway to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Make sure your donation makes it to the people in need.

A good rule to remember is instead of donating to someone who contacts you, find charities doing work you support and reach out to them.


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