As the Russia-Ukraine conflict has continued to unfold, relief efforts have been hard at work around the world. With millions displaced from their homes and a humanitarian crisis building, donations are more important than ever. Unfortunately, scammers never pass up a chance to take advantage of people, and scams have surfaced around taking advantage of people’s goodwill.
Ukraine Relief Scams
Ukraine relief fraud is taking similar form to other well-known scams. Scammers will usually reach out to you directly. This can take many forms including, but not limited to, phone calls, text messages, emails and social media. They may also pose as family friends or family members.
Scammers will always give valid reasons for why they need money, or in this case, why the people of Ukraine need it. They will also drive home how urgent it is that you donate money. This is standard operating procedure for scammers. Where they might be more successful this time around is that there is a very real conflict happening, and they can manipulate your sense of altruism and swindle you out of your money.
Another way to spot if someone is trying to scam you is how they ask you make your donation. If they push you to donate with gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency, there’s a good chance you’re speaking to a scammer. You should also refrain from answering if the person you’re speaking to asks for personal information or credit card numbers.
If you’d like to avoid fraudsters while also giving to organizations that are helping to make a difference to the people of Ukraine, we recommend you look at the organizations listed here. These are all reputable organizations, including UNICEF and Save the Children, and you’ll know you can rest easily knowing your money to a good cause.
How to Identify if a Charitable Organization is Legitimate
If you’re ever uncertain about an organization’s intentions, always know that you can research them before you choose to pledge your money. A good place to start is Charity Navigator, which rates organizations based on how confident you can be in donating to them. Charity Navigator can also be a great resource for finding charities you may not have been familiar with, but would benefit greatly from your donations.
If the charity you’re thinking about donating to is new or not well known, the IRS has a way to start researching. For an organization to be officially recognized as a charitable organization, they need to be listed as a 501(c)3 organization. The IRS has a database of charities you can use to find any organization that has (or doesn’t have!) this designation.
What to Do If You Think You May Be a Victim of Fraud
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your financial institution of choice immediately! Reporting fraud early, freezing your cards and contacting the authorities can be beneficial and instrumental in mining the amount of damage fraudsters can do. If you’re a Florida Credit Union member, you can contact us at 1-800-284-1144.
Florida Credit Union is a full-service financial institution. Founded in 1954 as the Alachua County Teachers’ Credit Union, FCU now services over 130,000 members in 48 counties throughout North and Central Florida. For more information on the services we provide, visit FLCU.org or call us at 1-800-284-1144.