Due to the events unfolding in Ukraine, people worldwide are standing up to help in any way they can. Unfortunately, these types of emergencies, whether they involve worldwide or local relief funds, are prime opportunities for scammers.
The crisis in Ukraine is not an exception - criminals are already taking advantage of the situation by pretending to raise money for those in need.
While supporting any charitable cause is admirable, you must take extra precautions when providing monetary donations.
What to Look for When Donating
Before you give to a cause you see on social media or read about, you must ensure your money is going to the right place. If you don’t, your donation could be lining the pockets of scammers rather than the people in need of your support.
Start by asking the following questions to help verify your gift is going to the right place:
Are You Familiar with the Charity?
Before giving to a charity, spend some time researching the organization online. Search the company name accompanied by terms like “review” and “scam” to see if others have had bad experiences with the organization.
Two popular websites where you can research reputable charitable organizations are:
If you’re unsure which organization to donate to, it’s best to stick with ones that you know and trust, such as the Red Cross.
Where are the Funds Going?
When deciding to support a specific cause, you want to confirm the money you donate will be spent accordingly. Reputable charities should be able to tell you exactly how much of your donation will go directly to the cause. So, if you’re unsure how any given organization is allocating its money, and they aren’t willing to clarify how the funds will be used, you may want to look elsewhere.
How Do They Ask for Money?
How an organization requests donations is a tell-tale sign of its legitimacy. If the charity asks for donations in the form of wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, they are likely a scam. When giving to a charity, it's typically safest to pay using a check or credit card.
Are You Being Rushed?
While donating to a cause related to a current event, such as Ukraine, can be time-sensitive, be wary of organizations pushing you to give immediately. Reputable charities understand donating can also impact your current finances, and they allow you time to decide if it’s right for you. Scammers, on the other hand, are usually very pushy. So, if at any point you feel you are being rushed or coerced into donating, it’s best to choose a different organization.
Was the Request Unsolicited?
If you receive a text, email, phone call, or social media message requesting donations, pause for a minute. Before you click a link or give out your personal information over the phone, research the organization to ensure it’s legitimate. If you want to donate, find the right charity for you – not one actively pursuing you.
Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of current events to pad their pockets. If you notice any red flags or feel you have fallen victim to a scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.FTC.gov/complaint/.
Although scammers are an obstacle that makes giving money to charities a little more complicated, you're more likely to avoid them if you are well-informed and take the time to do some research. In the end, you will feel good knowing your donation was able to help those in need.
We’re Here to Help!
The desire to help those in need is both human nature and admirable. Before giving money to the cause of your choice, make sure your donation is aligned with your budget first. Then, spend time researching the organization.
If you suspect you were a victim of a scam or fraud, please contact us immediately at 248-322-9800 extension 5 or stop by any of our convenient branch locations.
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