Fraud during times of national or global crisis and upheaval are common as it gives an opportunity to tug at the heartstrings of individuals with sincere intentions to donate. The crisis in Ukraine is the latest global crisis to spark fraudulent calls, texts, emails, as well as social media posts and ads across the internet. Typically, these are fraudsters posed as loved ones requesting donations.
Here are some tips from our partner, CUNA Mutual Group, to help you make informed and safe decisions when you decide to donate to relief efforts:
- Do not click on a link or attachment to donate online in an email received from someone unknown to you.
- Connect through a different communication link to verify the request if an unsolicited online donation request is received from a friend or family member.
- Do not provide Personal Identifying Information or debit/credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited charitable request
- Resist high pressure tactics and those with a sense of urgency. Be aware of direct emails from “victims” and solicitors who have a heart-wrenching story.
- Research the organization requesting the donation and if you do not feel comfortable, proactively research charitable organizations you may be more familiar with if you would like to donate. Look up the relief effort through a site such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch and read online reviews. Then, enter the URL of the charity yourself to independently confirm you are coordinating with the right organization.
- Be wary of proactive outreaches requesting wire transfers and cryptocurrency and do not donate gift cards.
- If donating to a charity’s website, make sure the website is secure, your internet connection is secure, and your computer is equipped with the latest anti-virus protection.
- If possible, always pay by credit card, which offers additional layers of protection. If donating via check, always make the check payable to the charity instead of an individual.
- If a member believes they are the victim of a scam, they should contact the credit union to put a hold on the account or credit card. Check accounts regularly for any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges and set up notifications that will track your credit card transactions and alert you to account activity.