Natural Disaster Scams: Stay Safe Online Too!
September 14, 2018

Natural Disaster Scams: Stay Safe Online Too!

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HomeTown Bank Blog

Scams Accompany Storms

Unfortunately, when we experience natural disasters, we also see a rise in criminals seeking to take advantage of the philanthropic nature of individuals. Criminals will prey on public interest during times like these in order to conduct financial fraud or to disseminate malware. The landfall of Hurricane Florence as well as any storms or disasters that may follow, unfortunately, have the potential for cyber scams to accompany them.

Think Before you Click

Often, cyber criminals will create bogus websites with fake relief efforts and post links to them in order to solicit “donations” or with the intent to deliver malware. Similar scams have occurred following other natural disasters and high profile events including Hurricane Harvey last year. There is reason to believe with a storm of this magnitude, we’ll see many new and repurposed scams surface during the relief efforts. Please keep this in mind and use caution when you are online before opening related emails, clicking links, visiting websites, or making donations to relief efforts. Something as simple as clicking a link to a photo can let the bad guys in.

From the time period of September 6-11, 2018, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) has observed an increase in registered web domains related to Hurricane Florence. Many of these registered domains include the words, “claims,” “compensation,” “lawyers,” “relief,” and “funds,” which could indicate the domains use in possible scams, so they should be viewed with caution. It is likely that these domain registrations will continue, even well after Hurricane Florence makes landfall.

Tips to Stay Safe Online

Please be sure to verify information before reacting to any posts seen online, on social media, crowd-funding sites, or via email. If you are not sure, please visit a trusted site or call a known number to verify its validity. What else can you do? Please keep these internet safety tips in mind:

  • Users should exercise extreme caution when responding to individual pleas for financial assistance such as those posted on social media, crowd funding websites, in an email, or over the phone, even if it appears to originate from a trusted source
  • Consult ftc.gov/charity if you are unsure of the charity. You can also find a list of vetted charities on give.org, charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org, or guidestar.org
  • Beware of charities you’ve never heard of and search for information about it online. Are there reports of it being a scam? Report any scams you see to ftc.gov/complaint
  • Pay close attention to names or URLs of organizations that closely resemble or imitate those of other well-known organizations and be sure you are not at a copycat site.
  • Do not open spam emails or click on links or attachments in those emails
  • Never reveal personal or financial information in an email, over the phone, or to an untrusted website

We want to encourage you to give, but please do so safely. We must remember to stay safe online as well as off; we can never be too careful.