DeBug Computers: How to donate safely online

Hopefully, 2021 and the next few years ahead will be viewed as humanity’s comeback. And the healing process may be kickstarted by helping great causes or individuals within our communities.
Donating online can be a safe and convenient avenue to achieve that goal. But donors should also be wary of scams and cybercriminals looking to take advantage of altruistic individuals. To help ensure your donation is safe and effective, follow these simple tips.


Double-check hyperlinks on social media
Unfortunately, cybercrime significantly increased in 2020 compared to 2019, per a recent study from cloud computing company Iomart. Cybercriminals thrive in confusing times.
Before you input your credit card information, ensure the charity’s landing page you found from social media is legitimate. An easy way to spot an accredited website is to ensure the URL address begins with “https”. The ‘s’ stands for secure.


Know your nonprofit
Nonprofit organizations are exempt from federal taxes. If you’re unsure an organization is tax-exempt, the Internal Revenue Service makes this information available to the public.
If the charity fails to provide a mission statement online, Board of Directors, or any contact information, this should be seen as a red flag.


Protect your privacy
Legitimate organizations usually provide a privacy policy on their website outlining their intentions for your personal information. If they plan to exchange or sell it to a third party, avoid this organization.
Look for “opt-in” or “opt-out” options during the donation process. An opt-in option requires the charity to ask for your permission before giving your information to a third party. Opt-out means the donator must notify the organization to only use their information for their donation.


Avoid public Wi-Fi networks when donating online
Cybercriminals can easily access public Wi-Fi networks to manipulate unsuspecting digital surfers. Avoid donating or accessing any sensitive personal information when using public networks.
If not at home, use a mobile hotspot or virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts communications between the computer or phone to the internet protecting your personal information.


Consider using a credit card for online donations
Perhaps the safest way to keep your money safe when donating online is to use your credit card for these transactions. Since credit card transactions charge the credit card companies directly, your personal money will be protected in the unlikely event of cyber fraud.
Many credit card companies offer fraud protection. If you do notice suspicious activity from your bank or credit card company, immediately notify them to investigate the situation.
Donating online is a great way to help those in need. Just be sure to be cautious in how you donate your money to others in the digital world.

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