Donation scams are on the rise – learn about scammer tactics and how to avoid falling victim.
Scammers often take advantage of world events to prey on emotional triggers, such as a sense of urgency, as they try to separate people from their money. With the humanitarian crisis occurring in Ukraine, these fraud campaigns have ramped up so it’s important to watch out for phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns.
Cybercriminals may use several different tactics to scam you. For example, they may try to trick you into sending money using cryptocurrency. While there are reputable charities that accept cryptocurrency donations, you should do some research to ensure the charity you are donating to is legitimate. Scammers are creating websites with names that are incredibly similar to well-known charities. Others say that 100% of donations will go to a cause – this is highly unlikely since non-profits have overhead costs they need to cover.
Cybercriminals may also try to catch your attention and manipulate your emotions by spreading disinformation. Disinformation is false information designed to intentionally mislead you and may be spread in the form of emails, text messages, or social media posts.
Don’t fall for these scams. The following tips are a good reminder on how to stay safe and get your donation money to the right place:
- Avoid making donations to unknown users. If you would like to donate to support a cause, donate directly through a trusted organization’s website. You can vet any group before you make a contribution to ensure that it’s reputable. A quick Google search as well as looking up the name in GuideStar or Charity Navigator are good places to start.
- Delete unsolicited requests for money and steer clear of solicitations that pop up on social media, a popular platform for scammers to exploit. Be cautious when donating to GoFundMe campaigns – these can be started by anyone for any reason.
- Watch out for social media usernames that only consist of random letters and numbers. These accounts may be run by bots instead of legitimate users.
- Always follow best practices for safety online, including verifying links in messages before following them, ensuring the legitimacy of websites before visiting them, and being especially skeptical of unusual emails.
Donate carefully! Staying vigilant is your #1 defense in avoiding falling into the scammer traps.