With the holidays and season for giving fast approaching, we wanted to remind you to beware of fictitious charities asking for donations. As the pandemic continues, many fake charities are portraying themselves as help for those in need of medical assistance.
Both the FBI and Department of Justice have issued public warnings about the uptick in charity fraud occurring this time of the year: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/charity-and-disaster-fraud
Our intent is not to devalue the importance and positive impact that legitimate charities have on communities. If you would like to give and help, look into the charity and validate that the person reaching out to you is an actual representative for that charity or organization. You can do this by checking reviews and organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, give.org, charitynavigator.org, or charitywatch.org.
Fraudsters are not only looking for your money, but your personal and financial information as well. Be careful of what information you are revealing. Fictitious charities are also an avenue for cyber-criminals to gain entry into electronic devices and upload malware. It is important to stay vigilant of what you are clicking on and the sites you are visiting.
Tips on how to avoid charity fraud:
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether you’re donating through charities, social media or crowdfunding websites.
- Before donating, ask how much of the donation will go toward the program or cause you want to support.
- Never pay by gift card or wire transfer. Credit cards are safer.
- After making a donation, check your financial accounts for unauthorized charges.
- Think before you click. Review the email or website to determine it is not a fraudulent email or fake website.
- Don’t feel pressured to into giving. A tactic often used includes creating a sense of urgency to decrease the amount of time you spend thinking the offer over.
- Verify that the person you are speaking with is a legitimate representative of a legitimate charity. Verify the charity at the Better Business Bureau, org, charitynavigator.org, or charitywatch.org. Verify the person by hanging up and calling the charity to ensure that they legitimately work there.
- Don’t click on ads for charities in your email or on websites.
If you believe you may have disclosed such information in what you suspect may be a fraudulent call, please contact us at 800.541.0006 so we can assist with protecting your accounts and your identity.
Please also report the scams to the FTC website or by calling 877.382.4357. Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action.