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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Be Wary of Scams Following the Boston Marathon Bombing

The recent tragedy that occurred during the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, has proven that Americans have a talent for coming together and supporting each other during our darkest hours. Although the bombing, which claimed the lives of at least three individuals and injured almost 200 others, was a blight on an otherwise joyous occasion, the days since have featured acts of kindness and compassion that have made coping with the tragedy a little easier for those directly affected.

While you may want to do your part to help the victims of the tragedy, be sure that your efforts are actually being directed at the appropriate parties and that your kindness isn't being taken advantage of by a scammer. Even in such emotionally trying times, some criminals will have no problem capitalizing on the compassion of others for their own financial gain. To avoid identity thieves posing as reputable charity workers, follow these few tips to make sure that your money goes directly toward the recovery efforts.

Base your trust on a group's track record
You should only make donations to charities that you have heard of before. Every time there is a disaster like this, there are a few charitable organizations that are steadfast first responders and have established a reputation for responsible and legal management of donations. Avoid scams by looking at a given group's track record and be sure that this organization is actually on the scene helping victims.

Specify how you want your contribution to be spent
Make sure not to blindly throw money at a charitable organization but instead give specific instructions on how you'd like your donation to be used. Send a message in writing, especially when you are donating money, along with your contribution to ensure that it is going directly to those in Boston and not elsewhere.

Don't donate your identity by accident
When you do make your donation, avoid giving unnecessary personal or financial information that could potentially lead to identity theft. A true charity will accept money without forcing you to provide your Social Security number or other vulnerable information that could allow a thief to open up accounts in your name and potentially damage your credit.

When you look into donating to help out the people of Boston, make sure that you also enroll in an identity monitoring program to help keep a second set of eyes on your credit report. This way, if certain kinds of activity are conducted in your name, you will be alerted to it and be able to take steps to stop the fraud from continuing.