Many Americans want to help during the COVID-19 pandemic by contributing to charities, but the FBI is warning that scammers also are angling to get at your money by posing as charities to help coronavirus victims.
Nationwide, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have received reports of scammers fraudulently soliciting donations for individuals, groups and areas affected by COVID-19. They are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don't let them.
Charity scams often occur when a fraudster poses as a real charity or uses the name of a real charity to get money from you.
Do not give money to any charity calling you for donations and be wary if you get a call about a donation pledge that you don't remember making.
Making things trickier, you can't always believe your caller ID. Scammers often spoof organizations' phone numbers. It's always best to research the organization telephone number yourself and ask to call back to verify.
Don't let them pressure you or make you rush to donate. If they are pushy, there is a strong possibility that they are scammers.
Similarly, if you receive an e-mail purporting to be from a charitable organization, whatever you do, do not click on links. These could be attempts to download viruses onto your computer or cell phone.
Watch out for charity names that sound very similar to well-known charities, as well as email addresses that are not consistent with the charity soliciting donations. Instead, search for the charity using an internet search engine to ensure you're connected to the actual charitable organization.
The best way to protect yourself is by doing your research. You can also follow these tips:
The FBI has more tips at fbi.gov/charityfraud.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it to the FBI online at tips.fbi.gov and to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
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