The images out of Central Washington are powerful and lots of us are ready to give. However, you have to make sure the organization you're giving to is legit.

People should be very careful. They should give with their head, not with their heart. They should research the organizations before they donate. They should donate to reputable organizations, said Shannon Smith with the Washington Attorney General s office.

Smith warns that con artists use disasters to prey on unsuspecting donors.

Unfortunately in the aftermath of disasters like this a lot of organizations pop up trying to get donations to go out and help the people that were affected by the disaster. Some of those organizations are just sham organizations. Others may have good intentions but they don't have the ability to get the money to where it's needed to where it will help people, said Smith.

Smith also warns that you can't get swept away in the urgency of the situation.

Be very skeptical of any organization that says it needs your money now. The need will still be there, even if you take the time to do the research to make sure you're donating to a reputable organization, said Smith.

Another reason to avoid giving over the phone is that these guys keep track of people who are easy targets for cash and use it to their advantage.

They will use those lists over and over again to call people for all kinds of donations for all kinds of causes and so sometimes they'll share the list with each other. So if you get on somebody's sucker list there's a good chance you're going to get on a lot of more lists, explained Smith.

Bottom line - The need is real so don't be afraid to donate. Just find a charity you know and trust and donate to it directly and say no all unsolicited calls and emails.

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