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How to help tornado victims in Oklahoma and avoid scams

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: May 21 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 23 2013 05:36:00 AM CDT

It may be your natural impulse to want to help the people in Oklahoma, but the Pennsylvania attorney general warned about who you're giving money to.

It may be your natural impulse to want to help the people in Oklahoma, but the Pennsylvania attorney general warned about who you're giving money to. You want to be generous and not a scam victim.

Many people in Moore, Okla., are without everything because of the two-mile wide tornado. The images of devastation instantly inspire many far away to want to do something, and unfortunately, the police said some people prey on that generosity.

"Just because somebody calls and solicits some type of donation from you, you can take that information and follow up on it to make sure it's a legitimate organization that's soliciting the money," said Tpr. David Beohm, Pa. State Police.

If someone is contacting you by phone, email or social media, Beohm said the best thing you can do is ask questions.

"If you start asking a bunch of questions, if they're not legit, they're probably going to hang up on you," said Beohm.

If you're online, there is a way you can check if a charity is legitimate. If the charity is local in Pennsylvania, you can go to charities.pa.gov or call 800-441-2555. Or, if you are checking an Oklahoma-based charity, the secretary of state registry is at sos.ok.gov/charity or call 405-521-3912.

"I'm sure there's people out there looking to scam people for any reason, any excuse to scam them," said Beohm. "I'm sure it's just a matter of time until it starts hitting around here."

When you give, Beohm said you may need to give your credit card information but nothing else.

"Some of the clues would be if they want your bank account number, your social security number or your name and date of birth," said Beohm. "I don't know anybody really needs that to take a donation."