While Ukrainian relief efforts are being launched across the nation, unfortunately, as with most national or global tragedies, scam artists quickly arrive and prey on the empathy of individuals, including credit union members, with fundraising schemes, according to the latest risk alert from CUNA Mutual Group.
If you are making donations, it is always encouraged to conduct proper due diligence to ensure funds are going to legitimate organizations and recipients, the risk alert states. Reputable organizations to consider supporting efforts in Ukraine include:
- International Rescue Committee;
- CARE-Ukraine Crisis Fund; and
- Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund.
These organizations provide food, shelter, medical care, financial assistance and more to those most affected by this crisis, according to the risk alert.
Risk mitigation tips
Credit union employees and members should consider these risk mitigation tips regarding donations to support any type of relief efforts:
- do not click on a link or attachment to donate online in an email received from someone unknown to you, and connect through a different communication link to verify the request if an unsolicited online donation request is received from a friend or family member;
- do not provide personal identifying information or debit/credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited charitable request;
- resist high-pressure tactics and those with a sense of urgency and be aware of direct emails from “victims” and solicitors who have a heart-wrenching story;
- research the organization requesting the donation and if you do not feel comfortable, proactively research charitable organizations you may be more familiar with if you would like to donate;
- Look up the relief efforts through a site such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch and read online reviews, then, enter the URL of the charity yourself to independently confirm you are coordinating with the right organization;
- be wary of proactive outreaches requesting wire transfers and cryptocurrency and do not donate gift cards;
- if donating to a charity’s website, make sure the website is secure, your internet connection is secure, and your computer is equipped with the latest anti-virus protection; and
- if possible, always pay by credit card, which offers additional layers of protection and if donating via check, always make the check payable to the charity instead of an individual.
If a member believes they are the victim of a scam, they should contact the credit union to put a hold on the account or credit card, the alert states. Encourage members to check accounts regularly for any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges and set up notifications that will track your credit card transactions and alert you to account activity.
CUNA Mutual Group’s risk alerts, in addition to additional risk-prevention resources, may be accessed in their Protection Resource Center. Log-in is required.