(WHTM) — Americans donate billions of dollars to charities every year, and where scammers see dollar signs, they see an opportunity.

When you are making a charitable donation, you want to make sure it’s not going to a scammer. AARP says you typically get a phone call, email, or even a knock at your door asking for money for victims of war, natural disasters, or other causes like police/firefighters.

You may also get a “Thank You” email or phone call, which makes you think you have already contributed to a charity.

Scammers will ask for donations in the form of cash, gift cards, cryptocurrencies, or wire transfers. They also typically pressure you to send the funds immediately.

Get severe weather alerts with newsletters and push alerts from the abc27 Weather Team!

Here’s what you should know. Scammers often use ongoing crises to their advantage, including war, hurricanes, or other tragedies.

While some charity scams are fake, others are registered as nonprofits but devote only a tiny fraction of the money they make to the programs they promote.

Legitimate charities will rarely or never ask for gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrencies as forms of donation. Real charities will never pressure you to donate right away either.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Research charities on websites like CharityNavigator.org or CharityWatch.org
  • Find out what percentage of the charities’ donations are actually used to help people
  • Don’t give out personal information to random people
  • Don’t click on suspicious links from alleged charities