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ebola scams can come in the form of spam emails
Posted on November 20, 2014 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

Given the rampant spread of Ebola in West Africa the last few months, it seems only right to give help wherever and whenever possible. When things like this happen, our natural instinct is to reach out and provide support in any way possible. If you’re wondering what you can do, the list is practically endless – whether it’s donating medical supplies, or giving money to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse. One donation may seem small, but it could make all the difference.

Unfortunately, scammers have decided that the generosity of humanity is the perfect chance to steal from well-meaning people. Watchdogs (including the Better Business Bureau and AARP) have released a warning, alerting prospective donors to the possibility that their money, and personal information is the target of many online Ebola scams.

First, if you are solicited for donations, be sure to take the time to research the company that is doing the soliciting. A recent CSO Online article reported that scammers are now setting up fake fundraising projects through popular crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo. In fact, according to CSO, there are “currently more than 180 Ebola-related fundraising campaigns on Indiegogo, of various degrees of seriousness.” Concerned that a fundraising opportunity may not be legitimate? We recommend visiting where you can research whether a charity is genuine.

Beyond false fundraising sites, potential donors must also be wary of an online Ebola scam that may be looking to collect personal data for theft or fraud. A spokeswoman for AARP explains, “Scammers prey on fears during the very worst of circumstances…If anybody is asking you for personal, private information, any kind of banking information, your Social Security number, you just simply need to hang up the phone on them.” And, this may go without saying but, never reply to an email asking for that information, either.

If you believe you’ve been targeted in an online Ebola scam, notify police as soon as possible. And if you have provided any of the aforementioned personal details to a suspicious party, be sure to check in now, and in the future, on your credit report, banking and credit card statements.

If you want to help, the best thing you can do is research donation opportunities via well-known organizations, such as Samaritan’s Purse or Doctors Without Borders, who have sent hardworking medical professionals into the front lines of the battle against Ebola.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Pete.