11/14/2013 10:00 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST

Typhoon Haiyan donations: how to avoid the scams

The terrible images coming out of the Philippines have many Canadians wanting to give.

Local fundraisers are being organized, Canadian charities have started soliciting and B.C. Liquor Stores and Vancouver community centres are accepting donations.

But the Better Business Bureau warns that disasters like Typhoon Haiyan can be a breeding ground for scams. 

Even if your donation is going to a real charity — how do you make sure the dollars are being used effectively?

Top five mistakes to avoid when donating to Typhoon Haiyan relief

- Making a donation based solely on the charity's name. Charities ranging from well-known emergency relief organizations to organizations experienced in reconstruction will likely be soliciting for various relief assistance efforts. Make sure the appeal specifies how the charity will help.

- Collecting clothing and goods without verifying that items can be used. Unless you have verified that a charity is in need of specific items and has a distribution plan in place, collecting clothing, food and other goods may end up being a wasted effort.

- Sending donations to inexperienced relief efforts.  If the charity has not previously been involved in disaster relief, or does not have experience in assisting the overseas nation(s) that have been impacted, this likely will hamper their ability to work well in the affected areas.

- Responding to online and social medial appeals without checking. Don’t assume that since a third-party blog, website or friend recommended a relief charity that it has been thoroughly vetted. Check out the charity’s website on your own.

- Donating without doing your homework. Find out if a charity meets recognized accountability standards.The public can go to the Canadian Revenue Agency to research charities and relief organizations to verify their accountability.

Source: Better Business Bureau