IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Hurricane Harvey scams: What to watch for when trying to help storm victims

TODAY investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen outlined steps to avoid being scammed while donating to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
/ Source: TODAY

As money to help victims of Hurricane Harvey pours in from around the world, it also has brought scammers out of the woodwork looking to take advantage of the situation.

So how do you make sure your donation will go directly toward helping hurricane relief?

TODAY investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen outlined ways to avoid being scammed and make sure your money reaches those in need.

Pre-order Jeff Rossen's new book, "Rossen to the Rescue," here

1. Don't donate via email.

Scammers often send phishing emails to get your credit card information or other compromising information, so unless you've previously donated to a specific charity before and they have your contact information, donate directly to a charity's website.

2. Never pay in cash

The best way to pay is by check or credit card so that there is a history of the transaction. Be wary of any charities asking for cash donations or to wire money because there is no record of the transaction and no way to get it back if you find out later that it's a scam.

We apologize, this video has expired.

3. Watch out for copycats.

The Federal Trade Commission's checklist advises to look out for any charity that has a name or a URL that closely resembles a well-known charity organization because they could be fraud sites set up to confuse people looking for the real thing.

4. Be cautious of email solicitations.

Be wary of any emails that claim to have pictures of disaster areas that are attachments to the email. The files could contain viruses or malware, so only open the attachment if you know the sender.

5. Pay attention to the website address.

The websites of most legitimate charities end in .org instead of .com, so take note of the URL. Also, legitimate charities normally do not solicit donations through money transfer services, so that is another red flag.