(2 Minute Read) – When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, we told you about social media scams that popped up overnight, soliciting donations that the fraudsters claimed would help Ukrainian civilians. Now, three months later, even more scams have been reported. It’s important to remember how to protect yourself—and your money—from fraudsters.
Anytime there is a natural disaster or global emergency, fraudsters prey on our sense of empathy to try and scam us out of money. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to seek out a charity you trust to make a donation. You can look for reputable charities by visiting websites that thoroughly vet them, like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance , Charity Navigator, or CharityWatch. Then, enter the URL of the charity yourself to independently confirm you are connecting with your chosen organization.
“It’s unfortunate that scammers take advantage of our sense of empathy and compassion during times of crisis.”Alexa Holsten, Fraud and Security Investigator at Unitus Community Credit Union
As always, there are some best practices when it comes to avoiding scams and fraud:
- Do not click on a link or attachment to donate online if someone you don’t know sends you an email or text message.
- Never share any Personal Identifying Information or card numbers if you receive an unsolicited donation request.
- Don’t engage with strangers, especially those employing high-pressure tactics, urging you to “act now.”
- Do not donate gift cards and be wary of requests for donations involving wire transfers, person-to-person applications like Zelle or Venmo, or cryptocurrency.
- Use a credit card when possible to make a donation to a reputable charity, as they offer additional layers of fraud protection.
- If donating by check, make it payable to the charity directly, as opposed to an individual.
“It’s unfortunate that scammers take advantage of our sense of empathy and compassion during times of crisis,” explains Alexa Holsten, Fraud and Security Investigator at Unitus Community Credit Union. “Fraudsters appeal to our sense of humanity and will do anything they can to convince victims to hand over their money or personal information. The best way to protect yourself is to proactively donate to a trusted charity and to avoid solicitations from people you do not know.”
If you believe you’re the victim of a scam, contact us immediately to put a hold on your account or credit card. It’s always a good idea to check your accounts regularly for any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges. You can even set up notifications within digital banking that will track your credit card transactions and alert you when something may not seem right.
Unitus supports the people of Ukraine and has donated $5,000 to the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund through the Worldwide Foundation of Credit Unions. The fund is set up to help mitigate both short- and long-term impacts to Ukraine’s credit union system and those who look to it for support, including both employees and members. Anyone interested in donating to the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund can do so through this secure link, or by texting CUS4UKRAINE to 44321.