With the holiday season comes the spirit of giving, and nobody knows this better than scammers. While charities appreciate the influx of donated goods, time, and money, scammers are prepared to take advantage of your goodwill.
Scam calls, phishing emails, and fake websites are all par for the course, using names that closely resemble well-known charities to solicit donations under the disguise of charitable causes that people are passionate about—such as homelessness and food insecurity, children, or animal welfare.
Here are some things to look out for:
- You receive a message thanking you for a donation that you don’t recall making.
- The message seems vague, or pushy.
- The person is unable to give any valuable information about the charity and its work.
- The ‘celebrity’ doesn’t have a blue checkmark next to their name (note that Twitter is undergoing changes to their blue checkmark rules and accounts may still not be trustworthy).
- When you google the organization, the resulting page does not match the link you were given.
- You are asked to make a donation using a gift card or money transfer app (ex: Zelle, PayPal or Venmo). Legitimate charities will usually give you the option to pay by credit card or check.
- You are asked to provide personal information such as your Social Security number or bank account number. A legitimate charity will not ask for this type of information.
Today we are now even seeing fake accounts made on social media sites, such as Facebook, posting to groups or pages asking for donations. Accounts could be completely made up, or even a clone of someone’s account, sending direct messages to that person’s friend list.
In this case, keep an eye out for:
- Any direct, instant, or personal message looking for a donation, as this is typically a scam.
- The request isn’t correct based on the knowledge you have of the person who is being portrayed. For example: “I need money to buy a vehicle so I can drive my daughter to school”, but you know this person does not have a daughter.
- An incomplete looking profile without much history or context to read through.
- Again, if you are asked to make a donation using a gift card or money transfer app (ex: Zelle, PayPal or Venmo).
- And if you are asked to provide personal information such as your Social Security number or bank account number.
As much as IT companies such as LayerEight hate to be the bearer of negative news during the holiday season, we don’t want to see someone’s bank account get hacked during this joyous but stressful time of year. Take this list of warnings and check your requests twice. You’ll find out who is being naughty or nice.
Happy Holidays from the LayerEight family!