Alerts Newsletter

Scam of the Month: Charity Scam

Did a charity reach out to you for a donation? Here's how to give safely and avoid a scam: Never donate with a gift card or by wiring money. Credit card and check are safer. Search the charity name online. Do people say it's a scam? Watch for names that only look like well-known charities. Look up a charity's report and ratings: Ask how much of your donation goes to the program you want to support. Donating through a charitable fundraising platform? Be sure you know where the money is going.

If You Sent Money to a Scammer 

Scammers often insist that you pay in ways that make it tough to get your money back. They prefer you wire money through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram, send cryptocurrency, use a payment app, or buy a gift card and give them the redemption code. Regardless of how you lost money to a scam, the sooner you act, the better. You can learn from the Federal Trade Commission about how to get your money back

10 Phishing Safety Tips 

  1. Don’t click. Instead of clicking on any link in a suspicious email, type in the URL or search for the relevant department or page. Even if a website and/or URL in an email looks real, criminals can mask its true destination.   
  2. Be skeptical of urgent requests. Phishing messages often make urgent requests or demands. When you detect a tone of urgency, slow down and verify the authenticity of the sender and the request by using official channels rather than the information provided by the sender.   
  3. Watch out for grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. Phishing messages are often poorly written. Common hallmarks of phishing are incorrect spelling, improper punctuation, and poor grammar. If you receive an email with these problems, it may be a phishing attempt. Double-check the email address of the sender, dont follow any links, and verify the authenticity of the request using official channels.   
  4. Keep your information private. Never give out your passwords, credit card information, Social Security number, or other private information through email.   
  5. Pick up the phone. If you have any reason to think that a department or organization really needs to hear from you, call them to verify any request for personal or sensitive information. Emails that say “urgent!”, use pressure tactics, or prey on fear are especially suspect. Do an online search for a contact phone number or use the contact number published in the WUSTL directory.   
  6. Use secure websites and pay attention to security prompts. Always check if you are on a secure website before giving out private information. You can determine whether a website is secure by looking for the “https:” rather than just “http:” in the Web address bar or for the small lock icon in the Internet browser. If your browser cannot validate the authenticity of the websites security certificate, you will be prompted. This is frequently a telltale sign of fraud, and it would be a good time to pick up the phone or report a suspicious message.   
  7. Keep track of your data. Regularly log onto your online accounts and make sure that all your transactions are legitimate.   
  8. Reset any account passwords that may have been compromised.   
  9. Know what’s happening. Visit the Office of Information Security Alerts page often.   
  10. Report it. If you are a victim of an email scam, report it to our office by using the Phish Alert Button (PAB). When you report a phishing attack, we will investigate it and, if necessary, remove other instances of the attack from our systems. Reporting the attack will help protect others and our institution.   

Additional Resources   

Phishing | Office of Information Security | Washington University in St. Louis   
Phishing 101 | Office of Information Security | Washington University in St. Louis   

Protect Yourself from Social Engineering   

Protect Yourself from Social Engineering