The FBI issued a warning on Wednesday alerting Americans to scammers using the coronavirus to solicit donations for fraudulent charities.
Federal law enforcement officials say they have received reports that scammers are using the pandemic to steal money, personal information or both.
The FBI says that often, the fraudsters will use the name of a real charity to conduct their scam. The FBI adds that criminals may spoof their caller ID number to make it appear the call originated from a legitimate charity.
“Be careful,” the FBI said.
The FBI offered the following advice to Americans:
The best way to protect yourself is by doing your research. Here are some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of a charity fraud:
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether you’re donating through charities, social media, or crowdfunding websites.
- Look for online reviews of charity organizations or use information from your state’s regulator of charities or from websites like the Better Business Bureau, give.org, charitynavigator.org, or charitywatch.org to check on the legitimacy of charitable organizations.
- Before donating, ask how much of the donation will go toward the program or cause you want to support. Every organization has administrative costs, and it’s important to understand those structures.
- Never pay by gift card or wire transfer. Credit cards are safer.
- After making a donation, be sure to review your financial accounts to ensure additional funds are not deducted or charged.
- Always do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus, purchasing COVID-related products online, or providing your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.