Ebola-Related Charity Scams and How to Guard Against Them

By Patricia Uceda, Fall 2014 Graduate Research Assistant

charityAs Ebola fears run rampant in America, it is unfortunate that some fraudsters have viewed this as an opportunity to make a quick buck by scamming consumers. Earlier this year, Ryan Corbin advised you to avoid Ebola stock scams.  Now, several Ebola-related charity scams have popped up, claiming to have the newest vaccine or drug and urging consumers to donate as soon as possible so that more can be developed.

The FTC and FDA are informing consumers that there are currently no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola, and that if you’ve seen companies claiming to have such a vaccine or drug, you should report it to the FTC.

If you want to make a charitable donation in support of the search for a cure to Ebola, here are some tips from the FTC to ensure that you are not scammed:

  • Find a reputable charity to donate to, such as The CDC Foundation. This nonprofit organization was established by Congress and has a Global Disaster Response Fund that supports the CDC’s work in West Africa.
  • Be wary if the charity seems to have sprung up overnight. That is an indication that it may not be a legitimate charitable organization. You can learn more about the charity by searching on these website that keep track of legitimate charities: Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, GuideStar, IRS Select Check, or Foundation Center.
  • If you receive a phone call asking for a donation, make sure to ask who the caller works for and what percentage of your donation will go to the charity. If you don’t get a satisfactory response, don’t donate.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in emails from charities unless you have verified that they are reputable using one of the services listed above. These links or attachments may contain malware which can steal your private information.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting your state attorney general or secretary of state. If they do have to be registered, verify that they are.