Many good organizations are helping people affected by the events in Ukraine. Your favorite news organization probably has published a list of trusted charities online. Unfortunately, this is also the kind of opportunity bad guys look for. They may use the situation to take advantage of your emotions.
For instance, a scammer may pretend to be a refugee trying to escape the area or a representative of a humanitarian organization helping those displaced. They may try to fool you into sending money, giving them personal information, or possibly even sharing your log-in credentials at work.
HOW IT WORKS
These scams may use phone calls, emails, texts or social media posts. They seem official, like they are from a legitimate charity or non-profit organization. Their message may use a flag or compelling image to encourage you to send money to help children and families. Bad guys may also build web sites that look like actual charity sites, except the URL doesn’t match the charity’s official site. To learn how to check this, go here.
They could also claim to have a mutual friend with you and ask you to send money. They may say they need it to bribe border guards.
No matter the scam, their goal is to get your money, your information – or both.
What To Do
- Be wary of any emails, texts or phone calls that are supposedly from a charitable organization asking you to donate to help families affected by these events. It could even be an email that looks like it is from your boss asking you to contribute on behalf of your company. It is a red flag if you are asked to wire money, pay with a gift card, pay processing fees, or share your personal information through email.
- Only open emails and texts from a sender you know and trust. This goes for opening attachments and following links, too. Bad guys can use files and links to install malware on your computer or trick you into giving them information. You should also be careful of any emails or texts that have instructions encouraging you to click a link to donate or “verify” your personal information.
- Be wary about clicking on links in text messages and emails that claim to send money directly to refugees.
- Ignore incoming calls and texts from numbers you do not recognize. If you do answer, and it sounds like a scam, hang up immediately. Don’t try to outsmart the bad guy by giving out wrong information. Just hang up. Learn more about this here.
- Don't share personal information, like passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account information over the phone, in an email or in a text. And do not send money to someone you do not really know.
- If you receive a suspicious text message, forward it to 7726. Learn more here.
- Regularly check your financial accounts and report any suspicious or fraudulent activity immediately.
- Verify any websites you visit to make sure they are secure. Learn more with this blog.
If you want to donate to this or another worthy cause, give to established charities you know by using official secure methods. For more information on how to avoid charity scams visit the Federal Trade Commission website.