How to make sure donations for Australia wildfire relief don’t go to scammers

Firefighters drag their water hose after putting out a spot fire near Moruya, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison called up about 3,000 reservists as the threat of wildfires escalated Saturday in at least three states with two more deaths, and strong winds and high temperatures were forecast to bring flames to populated areas including the suburbs of Sydney. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Many people are donating, hoping to give some relief to victims of the Australian wildfires. Unfortunately, disasters like this one can attract scammers.

The Better Business Bureau says, to avoid scams, look for awkward language, or typos. Another tip, check the URL bar. There should be an “s” following the “http.” That means the website has added security to keep your donation and personal information safe.

The safest way to donate is to give your money to a well-known organization.

“Look for an organization that is established, that you know is going to bring relief and take your dollars to where they’re really supposed to go,” Tim Maniscalo, President & CEO, Better Business Bureau said.

CNN compiled a list of organizations that are helping with the Australian wildfires. To verify an organization or a website, you can check give.org. It has a long list of legitimate charities.

Here’s what you can do to help

You can donate to the Australian Red Cross, which has volunteers at evacuation and recovery centers.

You can give to the Salvation Army Australia, which launched a disaster appeal. They’re providing shelter and meals to evacuees and front-line responders.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society Australia is requesting money to help evacuated families cover bills and rebuild.

There’s also the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, which set up specific funds for the families of two firefighters.

Australian comedian Celeste Barber created a Facebook fundraiser for the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donation Fund. The fund jointly supports the New South Wales fire brigade as well as the Victoria Country Fire Authority and South Australia’s Country Service. Facebook also activated Safety Check so residents can update friends and family about their safety status.

Save the Children is accepting donations to support their child-friendly evacuation centers in Wagga Wagga in New South Wales and in Bairnsdale in Victoria. The spaces are providing support and relief to children and families as they focus on recovery and rebuilding.

Save wildlife

The fires have killed and injured thousands of koalas and millions of other native species.

You can help the devastated animal population by giving to WIRES, an Australian wildlife rescue nonprofit.

You can also give to these verified GoFundMe accounts set up for Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

Volunteers for the Animal Rescue Collective are sewing pouches for Australia’s orphaned or injured kangaroos, koalas and bats. The group is asking for donations for supplies to make pouches as well as support for care of animals rescued in the fires.

Impact Your World will keep looking for other ways to provide aid as the fires continue.

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