Beware Scams Tied to Boston Marathon Bombings
Con artists are preying on people's generosity. Here's how to avoid being a victim.
The Better Business Bureau is urging people to watch out for several scams related to the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Con artists have set up fake charities and are using social media to prey on people's generosity, the BBB warns. More than 100 Web site domain names related to the Boston bombings were registered shortly after the April 15 tragedy. The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office received reports that many sites were seeking money for victims and that fraudulent Twitter accounts were also being used to solicit donations.
Scammers also are sending e-mails that appear to have links to footage of the Bostons bombings. But the links really contain malicious software that can gather sensitive information from your computer or will direct you to a fraudulent Web site that may prompt you to enter personal information.
The BBB, Federal Trade Commission and Massachusetts Attorney General's Office offer these tips to help you recognize scams and to make sure your money goes toward legitimate causes:
-- Make sure you know the name of the charity to which you are being asked to give. People soliciting donations in person or by phone should immediately identify the organization for which they are collecting money. If not, it can be a red flag. Don't respond to Twitter or Facebook requests for donations from unidentified groups or people.
-- Don't click on links to charities in texts or e-mails because they may take you to fraudulent sites or download malware onto your computer.
-- Don't assume charity recommendations on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites have been vetted. Do your own research before giving to make sure a charity is legitimate and will use funds wisely. About 40 of the 50 states require charities to register with a state government agency -- usually the state attorney general's office. Or you can check out a charity at BBB.org. And Charity Navigator has information about movements to collect funds for the Boston Marathon bombing.
-- Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion and vague on details because a legitimate charity will tell you how funds will be used to address the tragedies.
-- Don't give cash. The FTC recommends that you pay by check (made out to the charity, not the person raising funds) or by credit card for security and tax-record purposes.
-- Ask for a receipt showing the amount of your donation and stating that it is tax-deductible.