THE TERRORIST attacks on the United States last September have spurred people across the country to think about what they can do to help the victims.

But that good aspect also is accompanied by a bad one — unscrupulous people who are committing “charity fraud,” cautions LSU AgCenter family economist Jeanette Tucker.

The LSU AgCenter specialist says these suggestions can help you make sure your charitable contributions go to those in need rather than the con artists:

  • Be informed. Check out any organization that you hear about on radio and television or that contacts you by phone, mail or the Internet.

  • Don't give cash. Make checks payable to the name of the organization, not the individual asking for the donation.

  • Do not give out your credit card number to solicitors who call you or to unfamiliar organizations.

  • Ask how much of your contribution goes to the charity's administration and how much goes to program and victim services.

  • Be wary of groups selling merchandise claiming that all profits will benefit victims.

  • Before sending or giving items such as food or water, check with the organization to make sure it has the resources to store, transport and distribute your contribution. Some organizations would prefer to receive financial contributions that can be used to fund the most urgent needs.