The holiday season is one of the best time of the year not only because of all the nice festivities, decorations, and the spirit we get into, but mostly because it is the time of giving, and that includes for many of us giving money to our favorite charity too! In addition to being smart shoppers this Holiday season to save here and there, we also need to be smart givers so be careful where you put your in for donations. Avoid online scams!
Make sure to protect yourself from online donation scams–a number of which circulate on the Internet. Most online donation scams take the form of unwanted and sometimes fraudulent spam e-mail messages and posts in online forums, asking for donations in the name of well-known legitimate charities, or disaster victims and survivor funds.
This form of fraud, called phishing, uses a type of spam or pop-up window that claims to be from a legitimate organization, but is used to con money or personal information from would-be donors.
Phishing e-mails often provide links to phony Web sites that appear to be official. (Phishing can be done over the phone, so it's wise to be skeptical of phone solicitations for charitable causes, as well.)
Here are some tips by Microsoft to help avoid online scams this Holiday Season and always!
- Improve your computer's security (i.e., keep firewall on, keep anti-virus, OS and spyware up to date).
- Use current technology to help block spam;
- Use the Microsoft Phishing Filter or other protection software.
- Be on guard if you receive an unsolicited e-mail from a charitable organization asking for money. Don't click any links or enter any personal information.
- Instead of responding to solicitations, proactively contact well-known and established charity agencies that you or people you trust have used before.
- If you do receive an e-mail request from a charity you'd like to support, go to their Web site by manually typing their address into your Internet browser, rather than by clicking a link in the e-mail message. Better still, call them for verification and to find out how to contribute.
- While online, manually type in the aid organization's address into your Internet browser.
- Double-check the spelling of the organization's Web site, and get in the habit of always looking at the actual Internet address (for example, "http://www.redcross.org") before you continue browsing a Web site. Spoofed Web sites often use deliberate, easily overlooked misspellings to deceive users.
- Be wary of e-mails that claim to attach photos of disaster victims or areas—these attachments could be infected with computer viruses or worse.
- If you provide your credit card number or personal information to a charity-related Web site, make sure the site uses legitimate site certificates and that there is a written policy about protecting personal information.
- Keep up to date on the latest online scams through trusted technology news providers, government agencies, and other professional sources.
-The Moms Buzz
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