OCTOBER 2008

Tips and Tactics

There’s nothing quite like the spirit of giving that surrounds the holiday season.

If you’re planning to make an online donation to your favorite charity, be aware that cyber criminals will be lurking about in full force this time of year, phishing and scamming for your personal information by impersonating legitimate non-profit organizations. Online donation scams may come in various forms – spoofed websites, pop-up messages, unsolicited e-mail, or even posts in online forums. To help keep from falling for fraudulent charitable contribution schemes and other e-mail scams, follow the five guidelines, below, before you give back.

  1. Treat all e-mail with a skeptical eye. It’s always best to be cautious of any unsolicited messages. Likewise, your guard should be up if you receive an e-mail from an individual claiming to be from an organization, and asking for a donation.

  2. Think before you click. Be cautious about the links and attachments that are included in e-mail messages. Clicking the wrong link or opening a malicious attachment may inadvertently infect your PC with a virus or malware.

  3. Do your research. You should never give out personal or financial information without confirming that the organization you are dealing with is trusted and legitimate. If you are not giving to a widely known charity, ensure that it is genuine. This can be done by verifying the organization’s non-profit status. It’s also a good idea to find out exactly how your contribution will be used.

  4. Pay attention to the details. Scammers may try to fool you by operating under a name that is related to that of a familiar charity. Pay special attention to the exact name of the organization, and even to its spelling.

  5. Give directly to the source. To make sure that your money goes to the intended charity, do not rely on another individual or organization to make a donation on your behalf. If you intend to donate online, play it safe by going to the organization’s website and finding out how to give directly.

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