As our hearts go out to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, many of us are looking for places to make donations to help ease the suffering of the people affected by the killer storm.  Unfortunately, as with every disaster whether it is man made, such as the bombing of the Boston Marathon last month or of the natural variety, such as this week’s tornado in Oklahoma, among the first responders are scam artists who immediately contact you pretending to be charitable organizations dedicated to helping the victims, but who, in fact, are just taking advantage of the public’s generosity to steal money intended to help the victims.

TIPS

It is generally a good idea to stick to established charities that you know are capable of providing services to the victims and even then it is important to make sure that you are actually contributing to the recognizable charity and not one that has a name that might be deceptively similar.  Be particularly wary of solicitations for charitable contributions you receive by phone.  Even if you are on the federal Do-Not-Call List, you may be contacted by charities by phone, however, whenever you are contacted by phone to contribute to a charity, you have no way of knowing whether the person on the other end of the line is who they say they are.  Similarly with email or text solicitations, you cannot be sure of the identity of who is contacting you.  The best course of action is to go on line to the website of legitimate charities to find out how you can contribute online, by phone or where to send a check.  Before you decide to make any charitable donation, you might find it helpful to go to http://www.charitynavigator.org where you can find out not only if a particular charity is legitimate, but also how much of what it receives in donations go to helping the victims and how much goes to salaries and administrative costs of the charity.