Use Your Internet Security Skills To Protect Against Charity Scams

privacy-policy-security-theft-public domainSadly, scam artists always follow closely on the heels of a natural disaster. We know that when tornadoes hit the Midwest, all kinds of sketchy contractors descend on the area. Many do little more than collect deposits and move on to the next town.

We are seeing the same thing happen with the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal. In the face of tragedies like this, the wonderful side of human nature emerges and many look for ways to help out. Unfortunately, fraudulent charities start making the rounds and many unsuspecting individuals get caught in their web.

And in the Internet Age, the bad guys are discovering new ways to leverage global tragedy for personal gain. For example, you may be going through your email in-box some morning and find an email soliciting donations.

Stay vigilant

Because you want to help, you may let your guard down and click on a link or download an attachment that will put malware on your computer. Further, although you may be wary of other phishing strategies, when there is a “good cause” involved, you may be less careful.

Making smaller donations via a text message is a popular way of fundraising today and these can be fraudulent as well. Although these are usually for small amounts, the scams can add up to a lot of money.

It’s important to realize that any money channeled to a bogus charity is money that will not be collected by a real charity. Ultimately, the victims of the disaster are victimized a second time, along with the folks who are trying to do a good deed.

All of the measures required to protect yourself from garden variety Internet scams must be maintained to guard against disaster-charity scams. There’s an additional step you should take: Check out any charity before donating.

Vet all charities

In a posting on the National Consumer Protection Week website, Colleen Tressler, a Consumer Education Specialist with the FTC, recommends checking the legitimacy of any charity on one of these sites:

Telephone solicitations are another possibility. It is very difficult to determine the legitimacy of any caller. Further, experience shows that many of the “charities” that depend on cold calls for raising money end up spending very little on the causes they claim to support. Most of it is sucked up by overhead.

Keeping your team current on scams and Internet security issues is probably the best thing you can do to protect your business and the individuals who work for you. Use the issues that I’ve discussed here as a way to reinforce procedures with your employees.

Finally, do some homework and connect with a legitimate charity that puts 80-plus percent of the money it raises to actually help people in need.

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