If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll almost certainly have seen the terrible pictures coming out of Ukraine. I’ve been glued to various news apps – looking for glimmers of hope (and not seeing as many as I’d like).
And as with most crises, this war has brought out the best and worst in people. It breaks my heart to have to say it, but there are crooks out there trying to make money from the suffering of the Ukrainian people – and your generosity.
If you go onto social media like Facebook, you’re likely to see lots of fund-raising campaigns – either shared by friends or popping up randomly on your newsfeed. Now the vast majority of these will be people genuinely wanting to help – but not all of them, unfortunately. Some will be scammers using this opportunity to try and part you with your cash.
And they can be very convincing.
Here’s my tips on how to avoid being ripped off, and make sure every penny you donate goes to the right place:
- If you get an email or text message out of the blue from someone you don’t know – either directly asking for help or fundraising for a charity – ignore it. Don’t click on any links or call any phone numbers from it. It could be legitimate, but it’s a too big a risk.
- If a friend shares a fundraising link on Facebook, check with them to find out where they heard about the campaign. There are lots of perfectly above-board local fundraising efforts at the moment – but if you can’t confirm the source, steer clear.
- If you want to send money to help the people of Ukraine, the safest way is to donate through a recognised charity that’s already working out there. The Disasters Emergency Committee has an appeal running now, and you can donate directly through their official website.
Another thing that I feel I ought to mention (while we’re on the subject of Ukraine and social media) is fake news. Oh my word, there’s a lot of it about. Always. But in war time, it gets a whole lot worse. My advice would be to take anything you see on Facebook or Twitter with a very healthy serving of scepticism.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on, your best bet is to use a respected news service like BBC News. You’ll also find some well-written articles on a website called The Conversation. It’s full of analysis and opinion from academics, covering all sides of the political spectrum. I don’t agree with everything on there, but it’s always an interesting read.