broken piggy bankimage sourceKat. "Break the Bank (6/365)." 06 January 2009. Flickr.

Avoid Web Scams When You Give

November 14, 2012

Texting a charity or clicking an email link for a worthy cause is incredibly convenient ... and unfortunately, an incredibly common way to scam those of us trying to help out in times of need. Between natural disasters and the normal holiday season, we’re all going to face a lot of opportunities for charitable giving. Here are some tech tips to make sure that gift doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

  • Avoid responding to unsolicited emails, text messages, or social media requests for giving. These are likely lures for a phishing scam. On the same line: don’t click on links or download materials that you didn’t ask for.
  • Do your homework regarding charities you hear about. Good resources for this research are the American Institute of Philanthropy (CharityWatch) and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Be careful of sites or ads claiming to be from large, reputable organizations: scammers like to use the names of these charities to dupe victims. If you want to give to the Red Cross or Salvation Army, go to the website directly or make a phone call.
  • All of this advice applies to web apps downloaded to phones and tablets as well. Third party apps not approved or certified by an official store often pose a malware threat, and those claiming to help charities are no different.
  • Keep updated antivirus and spam filtering software installed. It’s far easier not to ignore a scam when you never see it to begin with. Also, check your privacy settings on social media and report spam accounts.

For more information on getting your donation to the right place and keeping it away from fraudsters, check out these websites: