ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee war-torn Ukraine, people across the world are digging into their pockets to donate to those in need, an act of kindness that some scammers are taking advantage of.
“Your heart just goes out to these people, but you have to use your head,” Melanie McGovern of the Upstate New York Better Business Bureau said.
McGovern said people are already falling victim to scams online and that people will often target those donating through fake websites, emails and social media accounts.
“A lot of names can be spoofed, a lot of organizations have look alike sound alike names,” McGovern said. “You definitely want to look into it before you click that donate button.”
The BBB advises consumers to use caution and avoid using websites they’ve never heard of or used in the past.
“If you have never interacted with a charity before and all of a sudden you’re getting emails, that’s a big tell that it could be a scam,” McGovern, who also said the BBB has seen a rise in texting scams, said.
McGovern said the best thing people can do to avoid scams is take the time to research a certain charitable organization. She emphasized that no legitimate non-profit will try to push you to donate.
“When it’s a fast moving situation like this is, obviously people might not have that time,” McGovern said. “But reputable charities will give you the time to do the research, they will let you look into their backgrounds.”
If you are donating, the BBB recommends using a credit card to do so.