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Donate smart! Officials warn about donation scams after Tennessee tornadoes

Secretary of State Tre Hargett is warning people to be wary when trying to help those affected by the tornadoes in the Nashville and Cookeville areas.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tornadoes swept through the Nashville and Cookeville areas early Tuesday morning, destroying hundreds of buildings and killing 24 people. People across the country usually want to help communities rebuild after such devastating disasters.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett is warning people to be wary of scams as they try to help communities affected by the tornadoes.

"Tennesseans are generous and support each other in times of need, and I encourage everyone to be diligent when donating money to charitable organizations," said Secretary Hargett in a press release. "Unfortunately, there are scam artists who prey on our generosity after a disaster. Tennesseans should give wisely so that we maximize recovery efforts."

Before giving to a charity, people should check to see if it's registered online. Donors can also call (615) 741-2555 to learn whether a charity is legitimate.

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Donors should also ask questions about the organizations they're donating to. Most charity organizations will have a specific mission and will be able to tell donors about who will specifically benefit from donations.

The Secretary of State is also advising people not to give money on the spot if they feel pressured. Donors should take their time and do their own research, instead of assuming that a social media post or blog recommendation is approved by the charity.

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Donating money also isn't the only way to help tornado victims. People can also donate supplies like canned food, water, baby formula, diapers, flashlights, batteries and plastic totes. They can also donate their time and help collect donations themselves.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by Tuesday’s devastating tornadoes, especially those who’ve lost loved ones, along with all of the volunteers and uniformed men and women who are tirelessly helping others during the ongoing recovery effort," Secretary Hargett said.

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