1. Don’t respond to unsolicited/spam emails — including clicking links in those messages. Those links could contain a computer virus.
2. Be skeptical of anyone claiming to be from a charity asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
3. Beware of organizations with “copy cat” names, which are names similar to reputable charities.
4. Don’t just follow a link to a supposedly reputable website. Instead, use any number of online resources — like the Better Business Bureau — that can help confirm a charity’s legitimacy and nonprofit status.
5. Watch out for emails that claim to have pictures of the disaster areas in attached files. These may easily contain viruses. Only open attachments from senders you are truly familiar with.
6. Make contributions directly to a known organization rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf. This ensures that the contributions are received and used for the purposes you intended.
7. Do not be pressured into making contributions. Reputable charities do not pressure you into donating.
8. Providing personal and financial information can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. Make sure you know who you’re dealing with when providing this kind of information.
9. Avoid cash donations. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
10. Legitimate charities don’t normally use money transfer services for donations. Most legitimate charities have websites that end in “.org” rather than “.com” domains.