Holidays always seem to put people in a giving mood, it’s a time of reflection for the blessings you have and the needs of others start to stand out more. This is such a beautiful time, but there are people out there who take advantage of the kind hearts who want to give online.
If you plan to be one of those generous people be sure to follow these simple steps so that your information remains safe and your identity secure.
The first step is to check online for the charity you want to give to.
Make sure they are legitimate and that their information online matches what is listed on the BBB’s website at bbb.org, Charity Navigator at charitynavigator.com, or GuideStar at guidestar.org before giving them your credit card number or any other personal information.
Second, be sure to use a secure connection when making your online donation.
This means looking for “HTTPS” in the web address bar and not just “WWW.” The ‘S’ stands for secure.
Third, double-check that you are on the official website of the charity before entering in any payment information.
Sometimes thieves create websites that look very similar to the real thing so it’s important to make sure you’re on the right page before typing in your credit card number or bank account information.
Fourth, never give out your Social Security number or passwords.
Over email or phone call solicitations from charities will seem real and kind, but they play on your emotions to gather this information from you then they’ll use It for their own benefit. Legitimate organizations will never ask for this type of personal information upfront.
And finally, never click on links in emails or online ads that claim to be from charities asking you for donations.
If the charity really needs your information they will contact you directly. Cybercriminals are constantly creating new scams so it’s important to educate yourself online at ftc.gov/idtheft which gives detailed instructions about protecting against identity theft and protecting personal information online.
The holidays need not be a stressful time, but keep in mind cybercriminals know that many of us use our credit cards to buy gifts and donate money during this season. Cyber thieves will try to take advantage of the chaos by sending out fake emails or posting links on social media. These thieves want your personal information so they can steal from you later. Be sure to give smartly so that you can better protect yourself against these bad guys, even if you forgot about them until now!
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