What the Tech? How to Protect Yourself from Online Fundraising Scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning people who want to send money to relief efforts in the Surfside condominium collapse that scammers are trying to intercept their donations.

The BBB has posted tips on how to give and what to look for to verify a crowdsourced fund is legitimate.

There are dozens of GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for travel assistance, medical costs, and funeral expenses. Unfortunately, some campaigns are not what they say they are.

Anyone can set up a campaign on GoFundMe in a matter of minutes. It requires only an account with an email address. Someone can upload a photo, write a description, add a fundraising goal and begin sharing and accepting donations.

Even if the goal is not met, the organizer receives the funds and is expected to use them as originally stated.

GoFundMe doesn’t review every campaign before it goes live.

There are always some campaigns that aren’t necessarily scams, but the money raised may not wind up in the hands of the beneficiaries. These campaigns are created by people with good intentions but have no direct connection to the disaster.

Review the campaign. Are there details of how the money will be distributed and used? Or is it vague? How many people have made a contribution?

Campaigns that mention names of individuals, a story, and are updated from time to time are, in most cases, legitimate. You can also verify the names and narratives by searching for them in news reports.

Some current GoFundMe campaigns offer to send donations to another charity. One of the most popular campaigns will send donations to the Shul of Bal Harbour’s Central Emergency Fund.

But you can also donate to that charity directly so that more of your donation winds up in the hands of the charity. While GoFundMe no longer takes a percentage of donations to fund the platform, about 3% of donations go to pay transaction fees.

If you are looking to help individuals through a GoFundMe campaign, you should start with the verified fundraisers on the GoFundMe homepage. As new fundraisers are created, GoFundMe will add them to that page.

GoFundMe protects donors, guaranteeing your donation reaches the beneficiary. If you suspect something is amiss after you donate, you can report suspected fraudulent activity to GoFundMe.

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