Open Your Heart And Your Wallet Without Getting Scammed (VIDEO)

By Michael Klopfenstein

May 21, 2013 Updated May 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM EDT

OKLAHOMA (www.incnow.tv) - Many of our viewers want to open their hearts and their wallets to help the tornado victims, but it is wise to do a little homework first before handing over the cash.

If you're solicited, get the name of the charity and what percentage goes directly to the advertised cause.

Verify that the charity has authorized the solicitation and do not provide any financial information until you've reviewed all the facts.

Get a receipt, and pay by plastic or check. Make the check out to the charity, not the solicitor.

Below are some nationally recognized charitable organizations:

American Red Cross
The Red Cross has set up shelters in various communities. You can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund, and the organization also suggests giving blood at your local hospital or blood bank. Fundraising efforts were buoyed Tuesday by a $1 million pledge from Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, via his family foundation.

If you're searching for a missing relative, check Red Cross Safe & Well's site. And please register if you're within the disaster region. The site is designed to make communication easier after a tragedy like this.

If you want to send a $10 donation to the Disaster Relief fund via text message, you can do so by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. As in the case with other donations via mobile, the donation will show up on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your balance if you have a prepaid phone. You need to be 18 or older, or have parental permission, to donate this way. (If you change your mind, text the word STOP to 90999.)

Phone: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is organizing disaster response units to serve hard-hit areas in central Oklahoma, including Moore, where it is sending mobile kitchens that can serve meals to 2,500 people a day, and to South Oklahoma City.
In Little Axe, Okla., the organization said, the army's Central Oklahoma Area Command Disaster Service Unit was busy feeding breakfast, lunch and dinner to people, "even as one of our Salvation Army family member's home was destroyed."

Supporters can donate online via the organization's website, SalvationArmyUSA.org. You can also text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation via cellphone.

If you want to send a check, the Salvation Army asks that you put the words "Oklahoma Tornado Relief" on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK., 73157.

Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

United Way of Central Oklahoma
A disaster relief fund is being activated as of May 21 so that individuals can specifically donated to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts, the organization says on its site.

"Financial contributions are the best way to help unless otherwise requested."
United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open. Donations may be made online here. Checks, with a notation of "May Tornado Relief" can also be sent to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK , 73101.




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