When disaster strikes a town, city, or state it can leave behind many broken pieces. Permanent damage to schools, environmental problems in an ecosystem, and potentially life threatening public health issues can make people incredibly vulnerable after the storm, but many people don’t consider what can happen online. Cybercrime and online fraud often increase in the wake of major events. Here are three common disaster scams:
Charity Imposter Scams
Charity imposter scams happen when scammers pose as an organization that claims to be raising funds for disaster victims. These fake charities collect money and personal information from generous people who want to help in the recovery efforts after a disaster. Scammers will rush you into donating without giving you time to think about your donation. If you believe you donated to a fraudulent charity, contact your bank or financial institution immediately to close or change any compromised accounts.
Online Shopping Scams
Online shopping scams increase after a disaster occurs. Scammers may pose as contractors or repairmen online, but have no intention of actually repairing your home. You may also see essential items for “too good to be true” prices. If you paid money to a fraudulent contractor online, immediately report the scam to the online platform you purchased the goods or service from.
Phishing email scams are another favorite for scammers after a disaster. For example, scammers will send emails posing as an insurance company claiming that you need to log in to update your information. If the link is clicked, scammers can install malicious software on your computer and gain access to private information. When this happens, update your operating systems and run a virus scan on your computer or device right away.
If you’ve experienced any of these disaster scams, please visit FightCybercrime.org for more reporting and recovery resources.
This blog was written by Aric Bird, one of CSN’s past marketing interns, and an Eastern Michigan University student pursuing a master’s in Communications.