Many kind, generous people are looking for ways to help the people suffering in Ukraine. Sadly, there are also many people taking advantage of that generosity and good will in order to line their pockets.
According to Newsweek.com, many fake donation websites surfaced after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These fake websites prey on donors and promise to help people in Ukraine. They appear to be legitimate but are in fact not helping those in Ukraine.
This is not a new scam. In charity scams, the wrongdoers mislead donors and divert funds away from the charity. They use legitimate-sounding names or claim to have connections to well-known charities.
There are many ways to protect yourself against this type of scam. To start, before you donate online, do an internet search of the organization’s name and the word “scam” to see if anything has been reported regarding that organization.
Before donating, use Charity Navigator to vet the organization you’re donating to. Charity Navigator not only tells you if it’s a legitimate organization. It also rates the charity on its financial health including its accountability and transparency. Charities rated with three stars or more are ones that you can “give with confidence.”
Remember that just because a family member or friend shares a charity link, that doesn’t mean the organization is legitimate. They could have been duped too. Do your own research before giving your money.
With regards to the war in Ukraine, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has also recommended that you understand if the organization is even able to provide immediate funds and goods to Ukraine. One way to do this is to see if the organization was already established in Ukraine prior to the war.
It’s also a good idea to not provide your payment information over the phone. If someone calls from a charity, they could be posing as that charity and not truly represent it. Say you don’t want to donate over the phone, and then look up the charity online and vet it before donating online. No one should ever pressure you to give money or make you feel uncomfortable. You’re in control. Any real charity representative should be understanding of your desire to donate online and to verify who you’re giving to.
Remember, the team of state government officials at the Iowa Insurance Division are here to help you. You can report scams here.