Be cautious when donating to Sandy victims


The Red Cross is seeing a huge spike in donations for Sandy victims, but right on cue charities that you've never heard of are asking for money as well, making the simple task of donating harder on everyone.

Residents of the northeast are still cleaning up, with many still needing food and shelter. The American Red Cross says the good news is they are seeing plenty of people willing to donate time and money to hurricane victims.

Cameron Ballantyne with the Red Cross in Houston said, "Those impacted by Sandy really need our assistance and Houstonians have really reached out to help those folks."

Ballantyne says checks started coming in immediately after the storm.

"We have seen an increase of folks who have come to be able to do something in person, or because they feel safer handing it to one of our employees or volunteers, instead of doing something online," he explained.

While donating to help those in need is a good thing, people are being asked to be careful when giving money because charity scams often follow disasters.

Leah Napoliello with the Houston Better Business Bureau said, "There are many fake charity websites that pop up when a disaster occurs. We see a lot of things like using a charity's name like the Red Cross, tricking people into giving to a fake group instead of the real American Red Cross."

Napoliello says with Facebook and Twitter, people could be exposed to more types of charity scams involving Hurricane Sandy than ever before.

"Do your research," she advised. "Don't just respond to any Facebook posts or blogs or Twitter from anyone out there. Make sure you are that you are giving to an organization that has experience in disaster relief and do the research yourself."

That means going to the charity's website yourself and find out what percentage of the donation goes to relief efforts. The Better Business Bureau search tool can help you.

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