5 tips for avoiding Ebola-relief scams

David Pollino
Posted by David Pollino

Every human tragedy seems to bring opportunities for Americans to help, and get ripped off.

Closeup of a man's hand holding a credit card and a tablet computer.The Ebola epidemic is no exception. Already the federal government has begun warning us all to be alert for online and email scams and cyber campaigns that use the Ebola virus as the hook. Already, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), the Federal Trade Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings and provided advice to help Americans protect ourselves from Ebola-related scams.

Business owners may want to educate their employees about these potential scams to help ensure they don’t fall victim to fraudsters or expose the company’s network to malware and other threats. Phishing emails, for example, may contain malicious attachments or links to websites that collect personal information such as login credentials.

Here are several tips to help protect against cyber-threats:

  • Do not click on web links or open attachments in unsolicited email messages. This goes for email from people you know.
  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus software. You can find useful information on anti-virus software on US-CERT’s website.
  • Be on guard dealing with any organization soliciting donations. It is easy to check out a charity through various online sites, including the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, GuideStar.
  • Watch out for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with Ebola or any other current events. Avoid “look alike” websites resembling legitimate charitable organizations and international aid efforts.
  • Don’t give out financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.

I do most of my charitable giving through organizations that I have a long-term relationship with to help ensure the proceeds will be used for the intended purpose. There are many organizations doing good work related to Ebola. Unfortunately, there are criminals looking to take advantage of this situation, as noted recently by U.S. News & World Report.

A few easy precautionary steps can help individuals and businesses protect themselves from fraud.

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