UBP blog

12/03/2009

“Tis the season for giving”, just be careful who you give to and how

With the holidays just around the corner, just about everyone is in a giving mood. Now more than ever we find ourselves dropping our extra change in the Salvation Army bucket outside the grocery store or giving that extra dollar to St. Jude’s whenever we buy something at CVS. Unfortunately, identity thieves are out there taking advantage of all this goodwill.

Every year, natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and wildfires cause many people to lose their property, homes, loved ones or even lives. Thankfully, there are many compassionate people who donate a great deal of time and money to charities that help these victims. Several identity thieves are taking full advantage of this eagerness to help and are using it as an opportunity to capture personal information of unsuspecting individuals.

These scam artists pose as legitimate charitable organizations and send emails out with links to very legitimate looking websites. When individuals click on the sites, they’re asked to submit personal data such as credit card and social security numbers. On top of this, many of these emails contain attachments that when downloaded, install spyware and viruses that are designed to collect sensitive data from individuals’ computers.

To keep the holiday season merry and not fall victim to identity thieves’ charity scams, you and your employees both should take the following precautions:

  • Only make charitable donations to a known organization using a published phone number, address or website.  Also, always make donations directly to the organization, never through a third-party.
  • When you donate to a charity online, always go directly to the charity’s website by typing the URL in your browser or searching for the charity’s name on your search engine.
  • Use various Internet search tools such as Google and Yahoo to verify the legitimacy of the charitable organization before donating to them online.
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