The Brillion News
MANITOWOC - If you think the criminal element in society would back off during the current pandemic crisis, think again.
Manitowoc County Sheriff Dan Hartwig said his agency got information on a new scam involving gift cards.
Victims, working remotely from home, received an e-mail from someone they believed to be a supervisor at work, asking them to buy eight $100 gift cards, expose the codes on the back of the cards, and send pictures of the cards to the supervisor.
Hartwig said no one should do this without first verifying the e-mail address and confirming the message by contact the "supervisor" by phone.
The sheriff's department said people should be extra vigilant for criminal frauds and scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the scams include the sale of fake cures, vaccines and supplies. Others claims to be health care providers demanding payment for treating a loved one.
Phishiping scams may come from e-mails, instant messages and phone calls claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control or other health agencies, authorities or charities.
The sheriff said some e-mail message also include malware that can damage a computer.
State adds scam warning
As the State of Wisconsin continues to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, Attorney General Josh Kaul and Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld are encouraging consumers to exercise caution when donating to a charity and to report suspected charity scams.
Actions consumers may take to avoid charity scams:
Do Your Research
Search DFI’s online registry to see if an organization is registered in Wisconsin and review its financial reports: https://wdfi.org/charitableorganizations/. Under Wis. Stat. § 202.12, most fundraisers and charitable organizations soliciting donations are required to register and report each year. Although not every charity needs to register, the fact that an organization isn’t registered can be a red flag.
See how the charity has been rated by watchdog organizations such as the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Guidestar.
Search the charity’s name online with words like “complaint” and “scam.”
What are the charity’s website, address, and mission?
How much of your donation will go directly to services, not fundraising?
Be Careful How You Pay
If someone asks you to send cash, wire money, or donate by gift card, don’t do it. It’s safer to pay by credit card or check.
If you’re donating online, check that the webpage where you enter your payment information has “https” in the address. This means your financial information is secure.
Watch Out for Scammers’ Tricks
Scammers can spoof caller ID to make their fundraising calls look like they’re from your local area code, a Wisconsin area code, or from an organization you know.
Scammers might attempt to pressure you into donating immediately before you have time to do any research. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation at any time.
How to Make a Complaint
Individuals who have information about a suspected charity scam are encouraged to report that information to DFI. You can submit a complaint online at https://www.wdfi.org/CharitableOrganizations/forms/dfi-dccs-2255.pdf.