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Tropical Storm Harvey Phishing Scams: Here’s What You Need to Know

Tropical Storm Harvey phishing scams are gaining momentum, according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). As such, US-CERT is urging people to “remain vigilant for malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on interest in [Harvey],” according to a prepared statement.

US-CERT has recommended several preventative measures to combat Harvey phishing scams and malware campaigns, including:

  • Use caution in handling any email with a Harvey-related subject line, attachments or hyperlinks.
  • Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
  • Keep antivirus and other computer software up to date.
  • Confirm the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the sender directly through a trusted contact number.

Emails requesting donations from charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters, US-CERT stated. However, these emails often contain links or attachments that direct people to phishing or malware-infected websites.

BBB Offers Tips to Avoid Harvey Donation Scams

Harvey has brought over 20 inches of rain to portions of southeast Texas, and additional rain is expected in the days to come, The National Weather Service reports.

Meanwhile, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising people to be cautious if they make donations to help Harvey victims.

“Events like these provide an opportunity for scammers,” Mindy Eaton, a spokesperson for the BBB in Louisville, Kentucky, told the Courier-Journal.

The BBB has offered the following recommendations to help Harvey donors avoid potential scams:

  • Double-check the name of a charity before you donate.
  • Be wary of emails and social media posts that may provide fake websites; instead, donate directly through a charity’s website.
  • Do not provide your social security number, a copy of your driver’s license or other sensitive information to a charity.
  • Review the BBB Charity Report to verify that a charity meets the bureau’s standards for accountability.
  • If you decide to contribute via crowdfunding, try to give to people who you personally know that have posted requests for assistance.

Every disaster has rescue, emergency relief and recovery phases, BBB stated. Although many people may try to provide immediate financial aid, it is important to note that charities will accept donations to support Harvey victims in the days and weeks after the disaster.

“The devastation caused by [Harvey] prompts us to do what we can to help as soon as possible,” Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, said in a prepared statement. “But donors need to be aware of some key cautions so that their generosity will get to those in need.”

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