The FBI is extending a warning to all who may consider participating in victim assistance programs or charitable organizations in the wake of the Pittsburgh shootings.
Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including:
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including by clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.
- Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
- Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
- Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
- To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
- Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
It is the worst kind of human who will exploit the goodwill and generosity directed to victims of tragedy. The reality is we must remain vigilant to numerous types of scams that wish to divert your resources from those victims you intend to help.