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War in Ukraine Spawns Charity Scams

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Scammers follow the headlines and take advantage of them when they can. Public desire to support  Ukraine in this critical time of need is no exception.  

How It Works

  • You receive a communication – by phone, email, text, on social media – even in person, soliciting donations for the people of Ukraine.
  • The name of the charity sounds familiar.
  • You may feel pressured to act quickly, and they may direct you to donate through a payment app, by text, or by purchasing gift cards and sharing the numbers off the back.

What You Should Know

  • Bogus charities may use names similar to existing charities to legitimize themselves.
  • The pressure to act quickly is a red flag; a real charity will take your donation when you are ready to provide it.
  • Less common forms of payment are also a red flag, though criminals may seek checks, cash or credit card payments, as well. (Always opt for a credit card, which carries greater consumer protections than other payment forms.)

What You Should Do

  • Legitimate charities – those whose fundraisers pass through most of the donations to the actual cause – need support. They, just like you, lose out when a criminal intervenes.
  • Research charities before you donate. It's easy to do at sites like Give.org or Charity Watch. In addition, Charity Navigator has a page specifically dedicated to high-performing charities engaged in relief efforts in Ukraine.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

P.S. Are you active on social media? Do you enjoy sharing information that can help prevent friends and family from falling victim to scams? Become a volunteer AARP Fraud Watch Network (FWN) Digital Fraud Fighter! Interested? Send us a note at FWN@aarp.org for more information!

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