After the tragic earthquake hit Haiti last week, cybercriminals immediately started setting up bogus donations pages claiming to be related to the Red Cross or other organizations sending relief to Haiti. Do not donate money to these "relief campaigns" because they are illegitimate frauds. These sites may appear in the first ten searches on Google.
The FBI has released some tips to raise awareness on this issue:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
- Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
For a list of legitimate organizations accepting donations for Haiti relief efforts, visit this website from Google: http://google.com/relief/haitiearthquake