Earlier this week we started to see warnings from news outlets, bloggers, and other media warning people about scams to collect money in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Unsolicited calls asking for donations, websites that seem to appear official, and random numbers you can text to donate money automatically start to pop up and disappear quickly. So if you are in a giving mood, how do you find the good ones from the bad ones?

Prepare, by Photo Monkey

The first thing to be wary of is someone calling your phone and asking for money. It can be a great reminder, but if you want to guarantee your money gets to people in need and not into someone’s pocket, go find your charity of choice and look on their website to figure out the proper way to donate. For example, the Red Cross makes it easy to donate by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to automatically donate $10 to be added to your next cell phone bill (or however you pay). If you don’t want to donate money or cannot afford to, you can always donate blood, food, or even just your time (which can be challenging in a disaster without proper training).

Legitimate online donation sites exist, but be wary of links you click to get you there. Just like online shopping, ensure you are at a legitimate site before donating money. Pay attention to the URLs and look for SSL. Can these be faked? Sure. But that’s why you should pay attention.

So, just remember, scammers want your money. They will play on your emotions to get it, being just as despicable as it sounds. Please give, but ensure your gift receives those in need.

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.

Possibly Related Posts: