Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has opened the hearts of millions of Americans who want to support charities providing relief for Ukrainian citizens and refugees.
Unfortunately, the urgency of this crisis has also opened new doors for both domestic and foreign scammers to take advantage of donors' generosity.
Since the invasion began, hundreds of fake donation websites, many of them heavily promoted on social media, have popped up seemingly overnight. These fake sites not only are designed to steal money from donors but to hijack their credit card information as well.
It's not always easy to tell legitimate sites or social media appeals from scammers and identity thieves. That’s why, before you click the “donate” button, look for these red flags:
- Websites that don’t mention the name of or provide an address for the charity sponsoring the site.
- Websites that don’t clearly state how your donations will be used.
- Websites that use overly dramatic stories or images.
- Websites that claim that 100% of donations will be used to provide relief.
- Website pages that are filled with typos and grammatical and spelling errors.
- Website URLs that don’t have the “.org” domain, which is commonly used by nonprofit organizations in the U.S.
- Websites that are based in foreign countries.
In addition to websites, crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe have seen an upsurge of pages that claim to be raising money for Ukrainian relief efforts. But there’s no way to tell whether these campaigns are legitimate or not, either.
If that wasn’t enough, scammers are also adding email, telemarketing calls, robocalls and texts to their toolkits. Protect yourself by never responding to any of these messages or engaging in conversation with any caller.
Identifying legitimate charities
If you’re concerned about being caught in a charity scam, only contribute to U.S. based nonprofits. You can research the reputation of most of these organizations using Charitynavigator.com, Charity Watch and Candid.
If you’d rather choose a charity that has been independently vetted, the Better Business Bureau has created a list of BBB-accredited charities that are raising funds for current or future relief efforts in the Ukraine.
This article was authored by Joelle Spear and Jeffrey Briskin. Joelle is a financial advisor and Partner located at Canby Financial Advisors, 161 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701. She offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. She can be reached at 508.598.1082 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeffrey Briskin is Director of Marketing at Canby Financial Advisors.
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