Criminals exploit people’s desire to be helpful
Roseville, Calif.- California has seen another devastating year of fires, sudden evacuations, and families losing their homes. Many from Roseville and across the state have rallied together to do what we can to take care of our neighbors.
When we open our wallets to support those in need, scammers pay attention and do what they can to get some of that money. From fake organizations that sound legitimate, to cold calling with compelling stories, we encourage residents be cautious.
Tips to protect you from potential scammers
Here are some tips to protect you from potential scammers, and ensure that your donations are going to reputable charities.
1- Give to known, trustworthy charities
There are several ways to verify that an organization is legitimate. Avoid crowdfunding sites since you don’t always know where the funds are going. California’s Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has partnered with Philanthropy California at https://www.philanthropyca.org/ that lists reputable organizations that will help those affected by the wildfires.
2- Do not click links
If you get an email or text message asking for a donation, especially from an unknown number, do not click the link. Instead, open your internet web browser and type in the name of the organization requesting the donation. This should link you directly to the organization, if they’re reputable. Clicking on unknown or suspicious links may install malware on your device that allows scammers to access your personal or private information.
3- Verify the website
When donating, make sure that the website is a secure site. All reputable charities use secure websites. There are several ways to confirm whether you are accessing a secure site. If the website changes from http:// to https:// then the site should be secure. Additionally, if a small lock icon appears next to the website address, the lock indicates that the website is secure.
(Editor’s note on HTTPS
https:// is a signal that the communications between your browser and website are encrypted. By itself, it does not guarantee a site is safe, reliable or trustworthy) Criminals do use https for Phishing and Scamming.
4- Make the call yourself
if you’re considering a donation to support a specific cause, do your research up front to verify you’re giving your money to the right place. If someone does cold-call you and you feel compelled to donate, hang up and call the charity back at the phone number listed online. This will ensure you’re actually talking to the legitimate organization.
A little effort goes a long way
There are many legitimate charities doing great work to support those in need. If you’re planning to donate, take the extra time to ensure you’re hard earned money is actually going to the right place.
If you’ve lost money or had your personal information stolen by a scammer, file an online crime report with the Roseville Police Department.