How to donate to Hurricane Harvey victims (and avoid a scam)

ABOVE: Dramatic videos shows the devastating impact Hurricane Harvey has had on Texas after it ripped through Houston over the weekend.

As disaster relief starts to pour into Texas for the thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Harvey, officials are warning people to do their homework before donating money.

US-CERT, the U.S. government’s chief agency responsible for detecting and minimizing cyber threats, issued an advisory on Monday warning people about the spike of online scams aimed at those donating to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

READ MORE: Canadian Red Cross opens donation portal for victims of Hurricane Harvey

“Users are advised to exercise caution in handling any email with subject line, attachments, or hyperlinks related to Hurricane Harvey, even if it appears to originate from a trusted source,” the organization stated.

“Emails requesting donations from duplicitous charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters.”

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The Federal Trade Commission also warned the public about scams related to Harvey’s disaster relief and said even if the charity seems “legitimate” it probably does not have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.

So where can you safely donate?

You should do your research before giving money to an organization. Charity Navigator helps identify reputable charities and has a list of organizations that are wanting to help out after Hurricane Harvey.

GoFundMe also has several disaster relief fundraisers following the hurricane. But be careful.

READ MORE: Budweiser brewery fills beer cans with water to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for GoFundMe, told the New York Times if a disaster campaign on the site is raising questions, “report the campaign directly to GoFundMe by clicking ‘report campaign’ on the GoFundMe campaign page.

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Reputable charities:

Airbnb has waived fees for people affected by Harvey who check in through Friday. It’s also connecting people who need a place to stay with people who are offering space free.

READ MORE: The Rock, Chris Brown and other celebs accept Kevin Hart’s Hurricane Harvey challenge

Since the storm made hit southern Texas on Friday, it has brought catastrophic flooding, killed at least nine people, led to mass evacuations and paralyzed Houston — the fourth most-populous U.S. city. Some 30,000 people were expected to seek emergency shelter as the flooding entered its fourth day.

With files from the Associated Press

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