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Sandy Donations Bring Scam Risk

Millions of Americans are still without power Tuesday night. As the East Coast starts to pick up the pieces, Mid-Missourians have reached out to ABC 17 News asking how help.As with any disaster relief, the outpouring of support is already growing. However, there are also always people looking to profit off of disasters. Relief organizations say they have not run into scammers just yet, but they believe they can’t be far off.Despite the need for relief supplies, officials say they cannot accept tangible goods.”We can’t take their water or their clothes, it just costs too much to ship out there,” said Heart of Missouri Red Cross Executive Director David Griffith. “If people really want to help, the best thing to do is send a check.”The Heart of Missouri Red Cross already has five members in the Northeast. The group says there are nearly 2,000 Red Cross volunteers helping with Sandy restoration efforts.The Better Business Bureau says that is a key fact to check before anyone donates.”Make sure you know the charity already has resources on the ground and that they’re not in transit or inexperienced,” said Mike Odneal of the Better Business Bureau.The BBB also warns those donating to watch out for solicitors who want donations too fast or promise too much.”It’s really just a matter of taking a deep breath, not rushing into a donation too quickly, and checking your sources first,” said Odneal.The organization says any donation process should take some time, so if someone is trying to rush, they may not be legitimate. Also, most major charities are requesting money rather than food or clothes.To donate to the Red Cross, you are asked to call 800-RED-CROSS or text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation that will show up on your cell phone bill.

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