Phishing scams are taking advantage of the recent tragedies like the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and nuclear reactor events in Japan. People are looking for ways that they can help the people of Japan recover. Unfortunately, there are a lot of websites popping up all over that are designed to take advantage of these people and their good intentions. These are mostly phishing scams and, with a little bit of savvy, you can avoid them.
First and foremost, only donate to well-known relief organizations. These include humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross. These organizations all have websites and you can make donations to them. This also has the benefit of being potentially tax-deductible as these organizations are established charities all over the world.
Phishing is an Internet term that means luring in a surfer with some sort of bait that appears to be something that it’s not. One popular way to run these scams is to use a domain name that is very close, but slightly different, than the organization the site is purporting to represent. For example, if a charity was named HumanitarianReliefNow.Org, a phishing site might use the address HunanitarianReliefNow.org to bait people. Many of the search engines will alert you if a site is known to be an attack site or a phishing site, but you cannot always rely on this. If you’re really not sure, write down the name of the site you’re looking at and see if it’s actually spelled correctly. It may seem a bit unnecessary, but the fact that computer fonts are sometimes confusing to the eye is precisely why these scams work far too often.
If you’re suspicious if a site is legitimate or not, don’t use it. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry. You can also call any of the organizations that you want to donate to and make a donation over the phone, if you want. There are plenty of different ways to spread your goodwill toward the people of Japan and you don’t have to let scammers get a dime of it. There are also browser add-ons that you can use to provide yourself with an extra layer of security. They’ll usually offer one type of alert or another if the site you’re on appears to be fake, which can help you to avoid having your bank account or other online account drained by scammers.