Want to send aid to disaster victims? Here are tips to avoid charity scams

The relief efforts that follow natural disasters like the ones currently unfolding along the Gulf Coast, Florida and elsewhere often showcase the best about Americans’ willingness to help their neighbors.

Unfortunately, the events sometimes bring out the worst — from those looking to make a quick buck through fraudulent charity scams.

The Department of Justice and the National Center for Disaster Fraud wants the public to understand the difference between legitimate charitable solicitations and those with bad intentions.

Consumers, they warn, should follow these general guidelines before making a donation of any kind:

—Ignore unsolicited emails. Do not respond to incoming spam emails, including clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.

—Always be skeptical. Be wary of individuals representing…

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