In light of the recent tragic events that have occurred in West Linn and the Portland Metropolitan area, the West Linn Police Department is cautioning residents to be vigilant when donating money to help those affected.

The Police Department offers these tips:

Never respond to unsolicited email and especially avoid clicking on any links enclosed because it may download malicious software or viruses.

Beware of solicitations from groups that mimic the names of well-known charitable organizations.

Never give out personal information such as, Social Security numbers, credit card info or bank account information, as doing so can lead to bank fraud and identity theft.

Avoid giving donations in cash. Instead, use a credit or debit card or write a check as these methods offer some protection if the solicitation turns out to be fraudulent.

Never follow a link to a site you find suspicious. Instead, check out the legitimacy of an organization by doing an Internet search for information or checking with organizations like the Better Business Bureau.

Be wary of solicitations from anyone representing themselves as survivors or family members of survivors of tragedies, as well as those saying they represent a government agency, even if they seem to have official identification.

If asked to make a donation to an organization known to be legitimate by an individual claiming to be a representative, opt instead to make the donation directly to the organization.

Most legitimate organizations will never ask for a money transfer through such services as Western Union. These are almost impossible to trace once they've been cashed.

Most legitimate charities website URL's will have the suffix .org rather than .com.

Beware of anyone wanting a donation immediately. Instead, ask for written materials or a donation envelope to be mailed. No real charity will demand an immediate payment. Never tolerate pressure to do so.

Finally, it is ok to be inspired by social media, but you must still do your homework.

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