In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the destruction it caused throughout the southern portion of Texas, as well as the storm that is currently in the Atlantic — Hurricane Irma — many of us have been inspired to give to those in need. As you research the best recipients for your financial support, a few simple steps can help ensure your donations don’t end up in the hands of cybercriminals.
First, rely on trusted sources. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh distributed a note to BSA employees outlining, “How to Help With Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort” on Monday, August 28. The email pointed readers toward the official BSA site created to aid units that were affected by the storm (scoutingemergency.kintera.org/texas) and provided links to the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Not every plea for help will come from an “official” source or be as easily verifiable, however.
Second, watch out for email phishing tactics used by cybercriminals during natural disasters, including:
- Emails with pictures and/or videos of storm damage, especially if they ask you to download the latest version of the player or viewer — don’t do it!
- Emails or phone calls impersonating organizations like the Red Cross asking for contributions — remember to always hover over the links before clicking to ensure they’re pointing to the correct organization’s websites.
- Tweets with similar requests, especially those with shortened URLs that can take you anywhere.
- Fake charities popping up on Facebook or other social media platforms.
- Ads on popular news sites that may be corrupted.
In general, if you follow the rules of NOT opening email attachments or clicking links unless you are certain they are safe; NOT transferring funds until you’ve personally spoken with the parties involved; NOT giving confidential information over the phone to anyone unless you are certain they are who they claim to be; and NEVER sending confidential information via email unless the email is encrypted, you should be safe from scams.
If you have any question, please don’t hesitate to call the Member Care Contact Center at 972-580-2489.