HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Donating to organizations and charities to help tornado victims in the Midwest can be helpful. However, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises being aware of who one is donating to.

Hilda Martinez who is the BBB President said scammers are always looking for ways to take advantage of people, especially during vulnerable situations.

“Unfortunately there is a lot of scammers out there,” she said.

Martinez said scams can happen over the phone, online, email, and even through text messages.

Before making any donation, Martinez advises getting as much information as possible. 

“You need to find out who am I giving to, I need to know the name of the charity, I need to know the address of the charity and I need to know phone number in case you need to get back and contact them and not only that, that way you can do your research,” she said.

According to Martinez, it is always best to outsmart a scammer because once money is gifted there is a chance you will not be able to get it back.

Martinez said it is harder to retrieve one’s money when wiring or using gift cards. She said credit cards or checks are a safer way to donate. 

“Always use either a major credit card or a check because you can always put a stop even on the check, major credit card, you can always put a stop to that by contacting your bank,” she said.

Martinez also advises asking how much of one’s donation goes directly to the organization or charity.

“Let’s say that you give $100 and only $20 is going to the organization, the rest is going into the pocket of the person that’s calling you so get a little bit more information about that as well,” she said.

According to Matinez, the Better Business Bureau website has a list of charitable organizations that are legitimate and those that are not or have an F rating.

Victims of scamming or anyone who is simply in need of help are encouraged to call the BBB for professional advice.