There were over 10 million cases of stolen identity reported this past year, and the business of identity theft is on the rise.
One of the most popular and successful forms of theft is the use of fake charities. Don’t be taken in by fake charities. If you are duped into contributing, you may have given more than just money to the scam artists. You may have given them enough of your personal financial information to allow them to steal your identity.
Once the thief has your identity (name, address, phone number, account numbers, security codes, etc.), he or she is free to set up new accounts and make purchases in your name. Such activity can be financially devastating to you, and it could take months to straighten the problem out.
How does one keep from becoming a victim? Be especially cautious of those who contact you by telephone or e-mail. You could receive an e-mail from a charity with a name you think you recognize. Many scam artists are very clever at making up names that make you feel you might already know them. Their causes always sound good, such as save the whales, help poor kids in Africa, help abused animals. Once they have hit your hot button and you reply, they are on the road to easy money.
Here is an example of what might take place. Let’s say you get an e-mail from “Doctors Across Africa” which you mistake for the legitimate “Doctors Without Borders.” The e-mail does a good job of convincing you that this charity assists thousands who would have no medical help except for generous people such as you. The e-mail has a link to their Internet site which looks very professional and official. It may contain photos of all the excellent work being done by these non-existent doctors. But most important, the site will ask you for your credit card number, maybe even the three-digit security code, and your name and mailing address so they can mail you a receipt for your tax deduction. You can be sure that by the time you push the “Submit” button, you will have given them all they need to steal your identity.
Stay alert for charity scams, or your desire to help just might result in having your identity stolen.