Phishing for donations

Brittany Pescetto Cybersecurity, Phishing

Hurricane Harvey hackers are phishing for donations

Phishing scams targeting donation sites for Hurricane Harvey victims

While the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey continues to pummel Texas, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team warns of existing fictitious disaster relief scams, preying on the charitable. With August marking just over 12 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the devastation has lasted far longer than the storm, and it’s happening again.

When Katrina struck, FEMA dished out nearly $500 million in federal aid, more than half going to fraudulent claims. Fictitious donation sites bearing names like katrinahelp.com, katrinadonations.com, and even “salvationarmyonline.org” were maliciously created, generating thousands of dollars in profit in a matter of hours. Almost 5,000 sites were ultimately removed, but the fiscal damage remains.

Those who wish to donate are advised to be vigilant in approaching any email correspondence regarding Hurricane Harvey, even if it appears to be legitimate. Be wary of any outright plea for assistance through the web.

Donation Checklist
DO NOT
  • DO NOT follow unsolicited email links
  • DO NOT respond to any unsolicited emails, text messages or social media transmission
  • DO NOT trust a shared link, a link within an email, or alleged donation site
  • DO NOT write checks to individuals directly
DO
  • Research any and all disaster relief charities thoroughly
  • Navigate directly to a site, by first googling the official domain to check it’s validity, then typing it into your browser
  • Pay by credit card, or write a check directly to the charity, never to an individual
Where to Donate
Learn More

Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey – FTC (Federal Trade Commission)

Potential Hurricane Harvey Phishing Scams – US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team)

Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks – US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team)

Using Caution with Email Attachments – US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team)

National Charity Report Directory – BBB (Better Business Bureau) Wise Giving Alliance

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