“Any time a natural disaster occurs there’s the chance that someone’s going to create a bogus charity that doesn’t actually exist to try to get money. So it’s always good for any potential donor to do research surrounding the non-profit that they want to give money to.”
Herlocker says people should surf the web to investigate the organization before sending money. She recommends visiting charitynavigator.org. The site ranks and evaluates charities, though not every charity is represented. Herlocker says to avoid donating by email.
“I would be leery of any email solicitations, in my honest opinion, especially unsolicited emails that you haven’t signed up for say if you think you’re getting an email from a certain organization but you’ve never signed up on a list for them, you may want to avoid those.”
And she offers this pretty straight-forward tip:
“Never send your credit card information directly in an email.”
She says legit organizations have secure websites where donors can make their contribution safely. The rule of thumb is to always error on the side of caution if you want to make sure you’re money is going where it’s intended.