Scam or legit: How to donate to Harvey victims

These steps will help you avoid donating to an illegitimate organization.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Often it's in the wake of terrible tragedies like Hurricane Harvey that we see the best in humanity. Across the country, people are donating their money to help save lives. But there are also scams out there, which if you're not careful, can rob you of your cash, without helping those in need. 

RELATED: LIVE BLOG: Scam warning, help available, as Harvey set to pull away 

Here are the best ways to avoid a scam: 

1) Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund:

This fund was set up by the city of Houston, and endorsed by Mayor Sylvester Turner. Any donations to this fund will be tax deductible, and are verified to go straight to those affected by the floods. You can find information on this fund by clicking here.  

2) Better Business Bureau: 

The BBB is a great source for investigating whether a charity is legit or not. The bureau has a database, where you can check a charity's paperwork.

Beyond that, BBB recommends that you "cut out the middle man," and donate directly to charities with "boots on the ground," like The American Red Cross or Ameri-Cares. That is a far safer option than donating to a charity that you know little about.

3) GoFundMe:

GoFundMe is a popular way to donate, and it's actually a relatively safe avenue. They offer a "GoFundMe guarantee," which protects you if the money is stolen by the organizer. If the fundraiser turns out to be fake, the site will fully refund you. 

If the money is stolen, GoFundMe will also donate the money themselves, so the charity still gets paid. There's a lot you can do as well to help avoid these scams. If a page looks suspicious, you can select the "report campaign" button on the bottom of every page, which will alert GoFundMe of the problem. 

4) Texas Cares Campaign

This campaign was created by Tegna, the parent company of WUSA9, and is being spread by television stations across the country. All money raised will be donated to the American Red Cross, and will provide food, shelter, relief, supplies, and emotional support for those in need. 

An average of 91 cents for every dollar is used for humanitarian services and programs, and only a small amount is used by the American Red Cross for fundraising and management. All donations to the American Red Cross are tax deductible. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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