Individuals across the globe are looking for ways to help Ukrainians during their wartime struggles. Unfortunately, even at times of crisis, scammers are trying to con kind people out of their money. Here is what you need to know about these scams and how to avoid them.
How the scams play out:
Like all charity scams, Ukraine relief scams convince potential donors that they are legitimate charity funds. They promise to send donated funds to Ukraine to help pay for shelter, food and supplies for refugees. They use various tactics, including phone calls, emails, banner ads on popular sites and social media messages, to seek donations. To the untrained eye, the solicitations look completely legitimate. However, if the target makes a donation, their money never reaches Ukrainian refugees. Instead, it makes its way to the scammer, where it can be used for any number of other reasons.
First, be wary of any organization that markets itself too aggressively. If you keep running into the same solicitations online and via text message or phone calls, it may be a scam. Similarly, if the organization pressures you to donate immediately over the phone, or by clicking on an embedded link, it’s likely a scam.
Next, look out for typos and spelling errors in any marketing material that represents the organization. If the ad is poorly written, it is likely the work of scammers.
Finally, be wary of payment methods that may be required for donating to this particular cause. Can you choose how to pay? Or does the “charity” require you to make your donation with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer? If the alleged organization insists on a specific payment method, particularly a method that offers little in the way of purchase protection, you are likely looking at a scam.
How to avoid getting scammed:
- Never click on a link or email attachment to donate online.
- Never share your Social Security number, credit card or debit card number, or any other identifying information online, or by phone with an unverified contact.
- Look up a charity you would like to donate to on a charity-vetting site like BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch.
- Read online reviews on any fund to which you would like to make a donation.
- Ask the organization’s representative how the funds will be used. An authentic charity will be able to provide you with a satisfactory answer.
- After you have verified that a relief fund is legitimate, contact them on your own to make a donation.
- Make your charitable donation via credit card for the ultimate in purchase protection.
- Never make a donation through a prepaid debit card or gift card.
How can I help Ukraine?
If you are looking for a direct way to help your funds reach Ukraine, here are some verified charities you can choose:
- Save the Children
- Center for Disaster Philanthropy
- National Bank of Ukraine
- Come Back Alive
- Razom for Ukraine
If you have been scammed:
If you believe you have been targeted by a Ukraine relief scam, it’s important to take the appropriate steps as soon as possible to mitigate the damage. Make sure to alert the FTC immediately. If your credit card account has been compromised, you may want to place a fraud alert on your credit report. If you have paid with a gift card, contact the company to ask about a possible refund. Finally, be sure to tell your friends about the scam so they know to be alert as well.
To help protect yourself from fraudulent activity, make sure to utilize your Benefits Plus® checking account with SeaComm! Once you upgrade your basic checking to Benefits Plus®, you will gain access to a full range of fraud and identity-theft protection services, including fraud alerts, lost document recovery services, 90-day Purchase Protection, and much more. Click here for more information, or stop by your local SeaComm branch to enroll.
For complete information, terms, conditions and exclusions please visit www.benefits-plus.org or call 866-329-7587.
In March, SeaComm was proud to donate $2,675 in support of the Ukrainian-American Foundation. The donation was funded by SeaComm staff and matched by the credit union. The funds were used to help provide emergency supplies to Ukrainian citizens affected by the crisis. In April, we delivered a donation of supplies in support of Lydia’s Warm Fuzzies for Ukraine. The initiative was created by Lydia Janovsky, Massena Central 3rd Grade Student and granddaughter of longtime SeaComm employee Jerry Manor. The donated supplies included hygiene products, pet food, and stuffed animals, which were sent to Ukrainian soldiers, refugees, and children. Click here to learn more about our recent donations and acts of kindness!