Beware of Hurricane Harvey Phishing Scams

Whenever disaster strikes, there are some people who view the tragedy as an opportunity to take financial advantage. The recent devastation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is no exception, and cybercriminals are perpetrating scams seeking to exploit the good nature of their victims.

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Numerous security concerns develop in the aftermath of natural disasters, many of them physical, grounds, and facility security considerations. Because of these problems, authorities are toughening penalties and enforcing curfews in Houston in order to deter looters who may try to target homes and businesses that were temporarily abandoned as their owners fled Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters.

But the ever-present, wide-reaching influence of the Internet has made it so that criminals can fleece unsuspecting victims without leaving their keyboards. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team has issued a warning that cyberthieves are sending out bogus links via both e-mail and social networks that claim to offer a way to help victims, but are really just a ruse that leads to theft of credit card numbers or other personal information.

It’s not just well-meaning donors that are being victimized, either. Those who have had their homes lost or damaged during the hurricane are targets of online scams as well, including fake rental listings or home repair scams.

Many employees at your company will want to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey—ensure that they are aware of these unscrupulous schemes so that they can donate wisely.

Some key tips to be aware of while donating to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey:

  • Never give cash.
  • Research a charity before you give.
  • Be wary of links and attachments in e-mails asking for donations.
  • Be sure you actually understand crowdfunding before taking part.
  • If you do encounter a suspicious organization or other scam attempting to take advantage of hurricane relief efforts, report it!