AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - During natural disasters people naturally want to help out, which may open the door for scammers.
"People want to give and they want to help, so you are going to find people wanting to take advantage of that," said Jeb Hilton, Amarillo Police Department's Public Information Officer. "It brings out the very best in people, but it also brings out the worst."
In the age of social media, it's easier for frauds to reach a larger audience through sites like Facebook, and some Amarillo residents have noticed.
"You don't have to go door-to-door," said Amarillo College's Mass Media Coordinator, Jill Gibson. "You can just reach everyone with one post, and it plays on their heartstrings a lot."
Officer Hilton said their are red flags to be aware of.
"Most legitimate charities won't come out and ask for an amount," said Hilton. "They are going to ask to give what you can or not even ask you to give, just give you an opportunity to give. If somebody is coming out and asking you for a certain amount of money, that's definitely a red flag."
Another way to avoid scammers is to only donate to well established charities that have a website and a positive history,
Both Hilton and Gibson say it's crucial to always research a charity before donating.
If you are worried you may have donated to a fraudulent charity, contact the Amarillo Better Business Bureau at (806) 379-6222.
A good online source is Charity Navigator.