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Here is how you can help Oklahoma tornado victims

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Here are some ways you can help those impacted by the tornadoes in Oklahoma:

American Red Cross: The Red Cross was setting up shelters in Oklahoma towns Monday. Donations can be made by going to www.redcross.org or by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is sending relief teams. To donate, go to www.bgco.com/donate.

The Salvation Army of Arkansas and Oklahoma is on the scene as well. Checks can be mailed to the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command, P.O. Box 2095, Oklahoma City, OK 73101, or by texting GIVE to 80888 for a $10 donation.

In Raleigh, Briggs Hardware at 2533 Atlantic Avenue is a drop-off location. You can drop off non-perishable foods, toiletries and boxed clothing at Briggs. The number is 919-832-2025.

How to avoid relief scams:

• Watch out for pushy telemarketers. Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions, offer to pick up your donation or pressure you are usually up to no good. Also, some telemarketers keep up to 90 percent of the money they collect for charities. Your money will go further if you give directly to the real charity, not to hired fundraisers.

• Don't respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give. Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be an example of phishing. The messages may include links to copycat web sites of legitimate charities to try to trick donors.

• Be careful of social networking posts asking you to donate. The cause may sound worthy, but you have no way of verifying how your money would really be used.

• Watch out for fake charities that sound real. Some scammers use names that are very close to the names of real charities, non-profits or even law enforcement agencies. If you want to donate, contact the real charity or organization at a website or phone number you know to be valid.

• Don't give cash. Cash gifts can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it's best to pay by credit card. If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser.

• Protect your personal information. Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don't know who contacts you, for any reason.

• Say no to high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fundraisers won't push you to give on the spot.

• If you want to give to charity, do your homework first. Visit www.give.org to see if national charities meet the standards set by the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, and www.charitywatch.org for ratings of charities by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Other good sources of information are www.guidestar.org and www.charitynavigator.org.

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