Scammers taking advantage of your willingness to help Ukrainian people

PITTSBURGH — Your willingness to help the people of Ukraine is seen by scammers as an opportunity to take advantage of your kindness.

Before donating to any causes, there are ways you can protect yourself from falling victim to anyone trying to cheat you out of your money.

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Cyber security specialist Sam Curry called the situation in Ukraine “fresh bait” for hackers of all kinds. He said you should think twice before opening any links on social media or in your email inbox.

“People put up fake sites of information, even real sites of information and streaming maps, and the general public says, ‘Hey, I want info. I want to do my part.’ So, they start clicking on things,” Curry told NBC10 in Philadelphia.

The Better Business Bureau recommends verifying any charity before sending money. Its website, Give.org, can help by providing information on how a specific charity operates.

According to the BBB, if you want to donate, your best bet is to go directly to a charity’s website -- making sure you spell everything correctly. Even one wrong letter can take you to a scam website.

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“Anyone can pretend to be, for instance, the Red Cross and say, ‘Hey, we’re taking donations,’ and send you something. If you want to give money, choose a charity, then go there. Don’t respond to what shows up in your inbox,” Curry told NBC10.

If you get a message from someone you know asking you to donate, don’t click on the link right away. Call that person and ask them if they actually sent the link to you first.