In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the devestating flooding in Texas, so many people are reaching out asking, "How do I help?"
When you give, make sure you're giving to a charity that you can trust and that will use the money wisely.
First, give to someone who has a good reputation. You can research different organizations with websites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar.
Those sites can tell you about where each charity spends money and how much is used for overhead and salaries. Each non-profit must file a detailed form with the IRS each year to detail how it spends money and you can view those on those sites.
Don't always trust posts you see on social media, like Twitter and Facebook.
Check the URL of the site you're giving. Is it actually the site you thought you were giving to or is the URL strange? If unsure, stop. Phone numbers for major charities are available online.
The Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC and this station, is holding a 'Day of Giving' this Thursday, to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation through the Red Cross. You can also visit redcross.org/abc or call 1-855-999-GIVE.
If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721.
Here are more good tips, provided by the Department of Justice:
• Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organizations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
• Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
• Rather than follow a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status.
• Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
• To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
• Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use such tactics.
• Be aware of whom you are dealing with when providing your personal and financial information. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
• Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charities' websites end in .org rather than .com.