Scammers will use any opportunity to take advantage of consumers’ fears. Since the first case of the Ebola virus was reported in the United States, an increasing number of organizations have popped up offering “cures” and opportunities to donate to victims of the virus.
Whether Arkansans are seeking ways to protect themselves from the virus or being solicited by scammers, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and his Consumer Protection Division want to provide consumers with information and helpful tips that will protect them against ill-intentioned organizations.
McDaniel issued a consumer alert today to inform Arkansas consumers of the tactics being used by Ebola related scammers.
“It is disheartening to know that whenever there is any sort of tragedy, there are people out there who will exploit good-hearted, law-abiding citizens,” McDaniel said. “In times like these, it is important that consumers are aware of the facts and the methods that scammers will use to take advantage of them.”
McDaniel provided the following information to help consumers avoid Ebola related scams:
- Be aware of the facts. There is no FDA-approved vaccine for Ebola. Solicitors offering preventative medication or Ebola preparedness kits are likely scammers.
- Give to reputable charities. Make sure that charities claiming to aid families of Ebola patients or Ebola research are legitimate before donating.
- Arkansas law requires most charitable organizations to register with the Attorney General’s Office before the organizations solicit money from Arkansas residents. The organizations must provide the Office with information about how they uses money collected through their fundraising. Consumers may determine whether a charity is registered with the State at www.ArkansasAG.gov.
- The Better Business Bureau also provides a list of nationally accredited charities on their website, www.give.org.
- Avoid unsolicited links online and in emails. Scammers will often use a technique called “phishing” to lure victims into entering personal information or clicking on harmful links. Learn about an organization before clicking on potentially damaging links.
- Ask charities tough questions. What percentage of your donation will go to the organization? How much will go to professional fundraisers and administrative costs? How exactly will your donation be used?
- Read the fine print. Some scammers will use names closely resembling those of legitimate charities to hook consumers into donating or clicking on their links. Pay attention to the details to avoid being tricked.
- Report potential scams. One of the best ways to fight against fraudsters is by reporting them. If you’ve been solicited or victimized by a scam, contact the Consumer Protection Division for help.
For more information, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call (800) 482-8982.