This far past the devastation super typhoon Haiyan blew through the country, people have come together to do their part in aiding those effected. There are many volunteers, donations in kind, and monetary gifts as well. Donating money to the relief effort is always very much appreciated, and, for many, the simplest way be which they can lend a hand. This method, particularly when done online, can help those who are unable to physically go because of their schedules or distance from the disaster.
Cybercriminals know this, and for them, taking advantage of people’s generosity in a time of crisis is just another day at the office. Many a criminal have put up a page on Facebook soliciting monetary donations, only to lead the generous donor to a personal account and nowhere even remotely near the people who need it. They have also resorted to sending spam via both email and SMS, encouraging people to donate to bogus charities and institutions. Trend Micro deals with this kind of thing on a daily basis, and they offer us a few tips on how to keep from getting scammed, while still being able to do your part to help.
How can users protect themselves from these scams and make sure that their donations end up in the right hands? Here are some useful tips.
Give to organizations you know and/or trust. Some scammers will try to pass themselves off as new charities established expressly for this disaster. Instead, donate to well-known charities that have been around for years. Alternately, smaller organizations that you personally know and trust to be reliable can also be a safe choice.
Be careful about appeals from social media and e-mail. Appeals to donate to various charities are spreading both via social media and e-mail messages. While many, if not most, of these are not scams, some will be. Some may be appeals from fake charities; others may just be lures to direct users to malicious websites. In either case, be careful about listening to these appeals. If you do decide to give to an organization whose appeal you saw here, go directly to their site by typing their URL into the address bar or using a search engine. This will help minimize the risks from potentially malicious links.
Check the payment site carefully. If you’re making a donation online, check the payment site as carefully as you would any other online payment. Whether it’s entering your credit card information directly, or using some other online payment site (like Amazon, Google, or PayPal,) be aware that these can be phished as well.
There are many charities that could use your donations, but this is not the time to let your guard down. These tips can help ensure that your donation gets to where it is needed the most. We also note that you can make donations to the American Red Cross from inside Facebook itself; details can be found in their official blog.