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BBB: Beware Of Dubious Donation Sites For Hurricane Michael Victims

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Images of destruction and devastation are moving people to help victims of Hurricane Michael.

But one organization wants people to do their homework before they donate their money. According to the Better Business Bureau, people can check out charities by going to

"The BBB rates charities nationwide and offers tips to help people decide where to direct donations to assist storm victims and their families," according to the organization's news release. "Scammers love to take advantage of situations where emotions are high, and this is never more true than in the aftermath of natural disasters. While there may be a sense of urgency, we encourage people to carefully consider who exactly they are giving to."

The organization said to be careful relying on third-party recommendations, like bloggers and other websites. Some other tips the BBB wants consumers to consider:

*Be Cautious When Giving Online.

Especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. If you're looking to give to an organization involved in relief efforts, go directly to the charity's website.

See if the charity's website clearly describes what it does to address immediate needs. Watch out for charities that don't already have staff in the affected areas as they may not be able to provide immediate assistance.

*Be Wary Of Claims That 100 Percent Of Donations Will Assist Relief Victims. 

Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs.

*Be Careful When Making Donations Through A Mobile Device.

The BBB Mobile Giving Foundation works with the wireless operators to ensure that mobile giving campaigns for emergency relief efforts adopt this same degree of caution before launching fundraising efforts.

Wireless operators do support all qualified mobile giving campaigns without taking any fees, although billing platforms such as the BBB Mobile Giving Foundation, do recover transaction costs.

All campaigns are compliant to industry best practices and regulatory requirements. Official mobile giving campaigns in support of emergency relief efforts are restricted to qualified campaigns, and can be verified by visiting

Understand Crowdfunding. While this method of assisting individuals in need is popular, keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a disaster. It's often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.

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