If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Double that when unsolicited emails, texts, spam calls or DMs offer “free money.”
United Way has received reports recently about online scams that use our brand to swindle people. In each case, someone claiming to work for United Way reaches out to congratulate potential victims on “being eligible for a cash grant.”
Impersonating United Way staff or claiming to be a “United Way agent,” the fraudster always requires something so they can “send you the grant.” Requests include personal information (e.g., banking information, date of birth, social media passwords, etc.), gift cards, or cash to cover processing fees. On Facebook, the scammers use your Friends list to gain credibility.
Don’t fall for it! No local, state, regional or country United Way would do that.
You will never be contacted by a United Way with a grant offer. It is highly unusual for any charity to do this. If you get an offer like this, please call your local United Way immediately – before providing any information. You can look up your local United Way here.
Here are some tips from experts to protect against scams:
• Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails or calls from anyone with an offer of grants.
• If you do get contacted, ask for the caller’s contact information and let them know you’ll call them back. Call the organization directly (not the number you were given) to confirm the identify of anyone who has contacted you.
• Never provide personal information in response to unsolicited offers of assistance.
• Check your social media account settings to limit what others can view about you.
• Limit access to your Friends list on Facebook, because that’s a data source regularly used by scammers to win your trust and confidence.
• According to one online security company, other online scams include phishing email scams; the Nigerian scam; greeting card scams; bank loan or credit card scam; and the lottery scam.
• Sign up for watchdog alerts from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.
Two reliable sources of consumer advice posted warnings about these scams. The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports offer additional guidance to identify this kind of fraud and to protect your personal information.
If you or a loved one is a victim of a scam, report it to law enforcement as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
If you are the victim of identity theft, contact IdentityTheft.Gov, the Federal Trade Commission’s one-stop resource to guide you through the identity recovery process.