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How to look out for donation scams during disasters like Hurricane Ida

Posted at 2:30 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 19:54:10-04

TULSA, Okla. — The tragic stories coming from Hurricane Ida victims, create urgency in many to help.

The 2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers want to warn people not to let emotions cloud their common sense.

The destruction of such a devastating storm certainly captures the hearts and minds of those who watch and listen.

MORE >>> Ida leaves more than a million without power as it blows through Louisiana, Mississippi

However, those collecting money for the victims may be fake.

Susan from Sand Springs told us about what she believes was a scam.

"I got a call on my cell, asking for much-needed cash donations for the victims of Hurricane Ida who lost everything," Susan says.

"They could take the money out of my account, or charge my debit or credit card immediately, in order to get the money to the victims as quickly as possible. I plan on donating, but I didn't recognize the name of the organization, and felt I was being pressured and scammed."

Security experts say Susan was right in questioning that call and hanging up.

Scammers strike quickly after disasters, playing on people's emotions, and desire to help. With so many legitimate charity groups, there's no need to fall victim to anyone that contacts you out of blue. If a caller uses the name of a well-known organization, hang up and call that organization directly, before you give anyone any money or any of your personal information.

Here are more important tips from the Better Business Bureau and other watchdog groups, on how to best help disaster victims:

Give cash if possible. After seeing destroyed homes and people who have lost everything, we may be tempted to donate clothing, food, bottled water or other supplies. Aid organizations say donations like that often create logistical nightmares and more expense. A financial donation can be spent on what is needed most at that particular moment.

Know who you're giving to. Charity scams abound after natural disasters. Give to trusted, mainstream organizations. If you are unsure about a group, check it out at the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, the Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.

Here are some well know organizations that help after disasters compiled by the Weather Channel:

American Red Cross

Help people affected by Hurricane Ida by visiting redcross.org or calling 800-RED-CROSS. Donations directed toward Hurricane Ida enable the Red Cross to respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance. If you have the time, you can make a significant impact as a Red Cross volunteer. Review the most urgently needed volunteer positions here.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of Acadiana is listing ways for people to help the victims of Hurricane Ida, whether it be by monetary donation or volunteer work. Check the links and information below for ways to help. Monetary donation: here or text RELIEF to 797979. Checks can be mailed to: Catholic Charities of Acadiana, PO Box 3177, Lafayette, LA 70502. Disaster Amazon Wishlist: In-kind donations to assist in the disaster. Volunteer here. To request help: Request help from Catholic Charities of Acadiana and Acadiana VOAD partners by texting DISASTER to 797979 or fill out the disaster recovery form.

United Way

United Way of Southeast Louisiana is accepting donations and looking for volunteers. It has set up a fund to support both short- and long-term relief efforts. You can find more information on its website.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army also operates a command unit, refrigerated truck, a laundry unit, shower unit, bunkhouse, and two Field Kitchens. These kitchens can produce between 15,000-20,000 meals per day. Online or phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)

World Central Kitchen

Chef José Andrés, who leads an organization that provides food relief in areas hit by disaster, tweeted that a team in New Orleans would activate its three kitchen facilities in the city. He said they have supplies already on hand for more than 100,000 meals. Those who wish to help can donate here.

All Hands and Hearts

All Hands and Hearts deploys volunteers to disaster sites to help with cleaning, rebuilding homes and creating a long-term recovery plan. You can donate to its Ida fund or sign up to volunteer.

Americares

Americares has a fund to support its deliveries of medicine, personal protective equipment, and medical supplies to disaster areas.

Operation Blessing

Operation Blessing partners, staff, and disaster relief volunteers are the first on the ground, partnering with emergency management and local churches to bring food, clean water, medicine and other vital supplies to meet the immediate needs of those suffering. Donate online or volunteer.

Pet Relief Agencies

Humane Society Disaster Relief: Donate online.

Louisiana SPCA: Donate online.

Mississippi ASPCA: Donate online.

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