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Ways to help Hurricane Sandy victims

Nov. 04, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

WATCH FOR SCAMS: U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, along with the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud, urge those wanting to give money to assist with victims of Hurricane Sandy to use caution.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.

Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.

Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.

Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.

Be cautious of emails which claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because those files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.

Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.

Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.

Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud by a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of hurricane victims, or if you discover fraudulent disaster relief claims submitted by a person or organization, contact the NCDF by phone at 866-720-5721, fax at 225-334-4707 or email at disaster@leo.gov.

AMERICAN RED CROSS: The American Red Cross is working throughout West Virginia to provide relief for the superstorm which has dumped snow on much of the state.

To find a shelter or donate to the Red Cross, go to www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

SALVATION ARMY: Nationwide, the Salvation Army is providing support, including food, hydration and cleanup kits.

The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by this disaster to visit www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). Donors may also contribute $10 via their phone bill by text messaging the word STORM to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word, "Yes." At this point, in-kind donations, such as used clothing and used furniture, are not being accepted for hurricane relief.

UNITED WAY: United Way Worldwide has created the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund, which will be distributed through local United Way organizations across the eastern portion of the United States.

Donations to the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund can be made online at uwsandyrecovery.org. A $10 donation can be made by texting the word RECOVERY to 52000. People who need assistance may call 2-1-1 or visit www.wv211.org for disaster information and for resources in their communities.

For more information, contact United Way of the River Cities at 304-523-8929.

VERIZON FOOD DRIVE: Local Verizon Wireless locations are collecting nonperishable food through the month of November to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The company is also donating $2,500 to the Huntington Area Food Bank.

Donations will be accepted at the following locations: Pullman Square in downtown Huntington; 4194 W.Va. 34 in Hurricane, W.Va.; and 416 River Hill Drive in Ashland.

KROGER TAKING DONATIONS: Kroger stores in the Mid-Atlantic region will be collecting donations for hurricane victims to give to the American Red Cross.

Coin boxes will be placed at checkout lanes in stores through Nov. 17.

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