Online donations to charities have become common so that philanthropic contributions of people can reach global donors as well as enable projects for socio-economic development in faraway developing nations. The problem of phishing websites has not spared the even voluntary sector and thrives by rerouting donations. By and large, the modus operandi of phishing charity sites includes:
- Identification of target segment and sending phishing emails
The scammers target the working class, who so often resort to charity donations, the reasons being a regular gesture of humanity from their monthly paychecks and the purpose of income tax exemption. This is why scammers are abuzz with activity during the tax season, when busy employees do not bother to report phishing websites, even if they come across the same.
- Diverting donors to click on phishing links
Donors must be alert when reading unsolicited requests from charities, that they have never heard of. They must not hesitate to report phishing websites, in case they are lured to click on links that may land them in fake web pages. These fake websites are only platform to steal sensitive and credential information of the donors, like bank accounts, PINs and passwords. The innocent donors not only lose the amount donated, but end up exposing their bank accounts to financial fraud.
- Misrepresentation of famous charities
Scammers understand that charity donations are based on trust and confidence. If they misrepresent the names, logos and even rating status of famous charities, it will be easier to lure donor traffic to phishing web pages. The scammers are shrewd enough to fill their phishing websites with apparently authentic images and videos of suffering people and development projects of the charity.
- How to report phishing websites of fake charities
Complaints can be directed to law enforcers, much alike reporting phishing websites regularly. In addition to this, there are watchdog organizations in the third sector like Charity Navigator, that maintain a strict vigil over the authenticity of charities. Reporting phishing websites to these organizations is worthwhile both as a proactive and reactive measure. It is advised to stop all further communications with the charity and get a fraud alert placed on financial reports. All passwords and usernames need to be changed with formal communication to banks to block, if possible, any money-in-transit in case of wire transfers.
- Report phishing websites if the charity web pages are insecure
Always ensure that charity websites are visited by typing the name of the website in the URL bar and not by clicking on unsafe links that may be sent by way of phishing mails. Donors must conduct basic due diligence like going through donor reviews, looking out for trust badges from rating organizations and the track record of the charity in terms of impact created on the society. Donors must look out for signs that confirm the physical existence of charities, even in case of online donations and must report phishing websites. Postal address and a landline telephone number etc. are examples of this. When your browser warns you of unsafe websites, it is better not to proceed with donation and to report phishing websites.