As we have seen and heard over the last week or so, Mother Nature has caused some pretty severe devastation in a number of places. While we have received no reports of fraudulent activity, there are always some people that try to take advantage of other’s generosity at times like these. Fraudsters will evoke an emotional urge within the victims to help; make them feel it is their duty to assist.
They can take the form of fake charity websites, phishing emails, phony social media links and unsolicited phone calls designed to trick us into giving donations – except the donations don’t reach the people we think we’re donating to.
In the coming days, weeks and months be cautious if you see social media sites that have suspicious links, phishing e-mails or unsolicited phone calls asking for donations to relief efforts. Be especially cautious if they are pushy and create a sense of urgency in making the donation.
With phone calls, it is important to consider that the phone number displayed could be spoofed. We have seen some cases where the fraudster spoofs a legitimate agencies’ phone number when calling.
Before you consider donating, always take steps to verify the authenticity of the person or organization. If they are legitimate, they will have no problem providing you with the information to prove it. You can also call that agency directly.
Another way to help is to visit the websites of well-known charities of your choice to make donations, like the Red Cross.