You may have found yourself glued to the news broadcasts through the recent tragedies in Boston and in West, Texas, as millions of others were.
After saturation in the news coverage you may have also wanted to help.
Our need to come to the aid of hurting communities is both normal and noble at the same time. But others view such tragedies as nothing more than opportunities to scam concerned Americans out of as many dollars as possible.
Your Better Business Bureau warns that you should not be blinded by your urge to offer assistance. Scammers are at work and their schemes are numerous and nefarious.
One day after the Boston bombing, the Boston Better Business Bureau reported that a phony charity scam had come to light. According to that organization, more are likely. While that first reported scam has been shut down, others are surely out there waiting for those whose hearts are opening to the victims to also open their wallets.
According to news reports, more than $25 million has be raised to help the victims of the Boston bombings. If you are led to contribute as well, take a few minutes to first explore some of the resources available to help you give wisely.
FTC consumer alert
The Federal Trade Commission has warned consumers to be wary of appeals for aid that you may get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites or on social networking sites.
When you are asked to make a contribution, keep these tips in mind:
Watch and GuideStar’s websites.
The scams that follow tragedies can take several different forms. Donation scams simply take your money and make off with it. Phishing scams use fake websites and/or social media with links to phony “donation forms” that are seeking your personal information. They may direct you to a website which downloads malware to your computer. Some fake social media accounts are set up just to acquire followers and “likes” with the intent of later selling the account.
A favorite scam for the last five years has been to send out emails and social media posts that claim to link you to sensational videos or photos of the tragic event. They are actually linking you to phishing websites and malware links.
More BBB tips
Here are some additional tips that can aid you as you seek to aid a tragedy’s victims:
Never click on links to charities or unfamiliar websites, texts or emails.
On social media you should not assume that a friend who sends you a link has checked it out.
Denise Groene is the state director of the Better Business Bureau. She may be reached at 800-856-2417.