It happened just the other day. I received an email from a woman who claimed to be in the UK, was hospitalized, and had a long sad story. Of course, she wanted money for this or that, but by then I wasn’t paying attention. A personal solicitation for help from a total stranger is not something I’ll respond to—no matter how dire their situation. Cold? Perhaps—but in today’s scam-centric online world, it’s a harsh reality.
“Be leery of people that contact you online claiming to be a victim.” This advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of an online scam comes from CharityNavigator.org. The advice also applies to in-person contacts.
Last year, I used the example of a Massachusetts man who set up a table in front of a department store. He was seeking donations for the “Help for Homeless Vets” charity. He’d covered the table with American flags, business cards, and pamphlets. Unfortunately for him, an off-duty policeman became curious about the charity, did a little research, and discovered the “charity” was a fake.
The best way to stay protected is to only give to charities with a verifiable reputation. There are plenty of ways to verify a charity’s reputation. Three options include CharityNavigator.org, the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org), and CharityWatch.org.
Shipping Notice Scams
During the holidays, it’s not uncommon to expect a package delivery. It’s also common to receive notifications of packages being shipped. What can be confusing, though, are the shipping notice scams, those emails claiming a package could not be delivered.
In one example from earlier this year, a “delivery failure” email was purportedly sent from DHL. The email claimed the recipient could fix the problem by logging in with their Adobe ID. The email looked very official. It included both the DHL and Adobe logos. Of course, it was a scam, but people were caught in the trap.
Beware of any notifications claiming it is necessary to log in somewhere to correct a problem with delivery. They’re most likely a phishing scam and have nothing to do with the company cited in the email.