An unfortunate side effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been an uptick of scams looking to exploit the fear and uncertainty many of us are feeling. Those most vulnerable are seniors, who are often the target of scammers, especially now as they are most vulnerable to the virus itself. As charitable organizations, it is important to keep your donor base informed about these dangers.
Types of Scams
A variety of tactics are being used to bait unsuspecting victims to give money or disclose private information. Scams under the ruse of offering COVID-19 cures and treatments, distributing relief payments, selling or delivering in-demand goods like cleaning products and medical supplies and raising money for coronavirus related causes are increasing.
These attempts might take the form of a robocall, email or text. Communications often urge immediate action to receive critical information or to send money by clicking on a link or providing personal information. To combat these attempts, it is best to ignore and to not engage with unfamiliar contacts.
Your donors and even your colleagues could also be susceptible to phishing attempts, or texts and emails that appear to be from recognized contacts or organizations that are designed to install malware on your device. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unverified sources.
What Can You Do?
Your donors, particularly your planned giving donors, are the most vulnerable. There are a few steps your organization can take to help safeguard your donors from malicious attempts to take advantage of their vulnerability.
1. Warn your donors about potential scams. Informing your donors of scamming tactics may help them recognize they have been targeted.
2. Maintain or increase communication with donors. Keeping in touch with your donors can not only strengthen your relationship, it can also help prevent your donors from falling prey to scams. Frequent communication allows your donors to recognize what legitimate communications look like.
3. Remind donors of your policies for collecting gifts and personal information. Inform your donors of your organization’s policies and procedures for collecting donations and valuable information online, by phone and by mail. Also, remind your donors of contact information for you and your staff, so they can recognize false names, emails and addresses.
There will likely be a rise in scam attempts within the next few weeks as Americans begin receiving their economic impact payments. You can report coronavirus related scam attempts directly to the federal government here. The best way to protect your donors is to stay in touch.
Click here for more information on coronavirus scam attempts from the FTC.
By Ainsley Willis, Sharpe Group Editor
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