Home > Identity Theft > How to Help Syrian Refugees Without Getting Scammed

Comments 0 Comments

Five years of conflict in Syria have displaced more than half of that country’s population of 22.85 million, and, according to Amnesty International, more than 4 million Syrian refugees have fled to five countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

An increase in news coverage of people scrambling to cross European borders — and the trauma they experience en route — has recently caught Americans’ attention, amplifying calls for help. Making monetary donations is among the easiest and most effective ways people can contribute to humanitarian relief efforts, but that presents a challenge: How do you know your money is going to where it can best be used?

Those looking to donate have a lot of options, but among the organizations working on the ground to support people who have fled Syria are people with no intention other than to steal money. It happens whenever there’s a disaster or crisis grabbing global headlines: Scammers capitalize on the attention and motivation people have to give money to those in need by setting up fake charities to receive donors’s well-intentioned but misdirected funds.

The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance issued a warning to consumers this week:

“Tragedies generate public sympathy but unfortunately also attract scam fund raising efforts,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB WGA, in a news release. “We are reminding contributors to be on the lookout for questionable solicitors and recommend that they focus giving efforts on charities that already have a presence in the impacted areas.”

Their tips include:

  • When making online donations, go directly to a charity’s website, rather than clicking on links in emails or social media messages soliciting donations.
  • Research organizations to which you’re considering donating, to find out how they’re helping and whether or not the group is legitimate. The BBB recommends using Give.org to research, and it has posted its own list of BBB-verified charities working to help displaced Syrians.
  • Be wary of organizations claiming 100% of donations go to refugees, because charities have operational costs.

Remember that charitable donations are often tax-deductible, so keep records of your payments. It’s worth the effort to research before donating, because sending money to a scammer not only wastes your money, it could expose you to cyberattacks or further scams, which could lead to financial losses or identity theft. If you’re worried you’ve already compromised your identity by giving sensitive information like your Social Security number to a scammer, you can pull your credit reports for free at AnnualCreditReport.com to see if any new accounts you don’t recognize appear in your name. You can also monitor your credit scores for free on Credit.com on a monthly basis to check for signs of fraud.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team