Times of tragedy often bring out acts of charity. But unfortunately, they also bring out scammers hell-bent on exploiting the situation. And the Russian-Ukraine War is no different.
As Russia continues to invade Ukraine, more and more Ukrainians are getting displaced, and millions are fleeing the country. So, it makes sense for people to want to help as much and as quickly as possible.
This situation has also created an opportunity where scammers can take advantage of kind-hearted individuals. But before making any donations, whether it’s money or supplies, it’s wise to do your research to avoid falling victim to a charity scam.
Ukraine Wars Scams Hitting You Via Social Media, Email, and Phone
Since the Ukraine-Russia war started, there’s been an increase in scammers tricking people into sending money. They pretend to be desperate Ukrainians in need of financial help. They execute these scams via phone calls, emails, text messages, social media, and online banner ads.
Although the caller ID and number might look legit, chances are the calls are coming from cybercriminals trying to benefit from the ongoing geopolitical turmoil.
Besides that, more fake donations websites are popping up, according to Newsweek. Below are some fake websites flagged by WeLiveSecurity.com:
These sites might appear legitimate because scammers tend to use names that sound similar to those you’ve heard before.
Tips To Avoid Charity Scams Online
- Avoid clicking on attachments and links to donation sites you have no information on. If you want to help the people in Ukraine, do some research about the site first.
- When making your donation to a crowdfunding platform, it’s advisable to give the money to an individual you know. Also, take time to review the platform’s policies to learn how the money is distributed.
- If donating money to a charity, visit Give.org, Charity Navigator, or CharityWatchto check the legitimacy of the groups. Then, evaluate the charity’s trustworthiness by visiting BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Also, read the reviews and visit the site yourself to confirm if you’re working with the right organization.
- Pay with credit cards that come with an extra layer of protection. Avoid using debit cards since they drain money from your checking account directly. And another thing: don’t make donations using wire transfers or gift cards.
- Only donate to charities with a presence in the country. While some charities have the best intentions, they might not have their feet in the ground. They have no established network in the regions, so they can’t offer relief right away. Therefore, it’s wise to check a charity’s history and see if it was already established in Ukraine.
- Like any other organization, charities have overhead costs. So, if a donation website claims it donates 100% of the money to the cause, it might be a fake site. All relief organizations must deal with administrative and fundraising expenses, so giving 100% is most likely an exaggerated claim.
- After making donations, monitor your account regularly for unauthorized charges or suspicious activity. It’s wise to set up notifications via your bank to track transactions made from your credit card. Or you can get identity theft protection for real-time credit report monitoring and receive other alerts that may threaten your personal information.
Although you want to help the Ukrainians affected by the ongoing conflict, be cautious. Make sure your charity is going to those you want to help.