It’s so easy to fall prey to scams, because there are so many out there – you’re bound to hit a brick wall with one of them. From “organizations” asking for donations to help the needy to vehicle thefts, your name, phone number, address and other personal information can get into the hands of an evil-minded person. Recently, a BP employee’s laptop went missing, which contained numerous Gulf Coast residents’ information – this just shows that you sometimes don’t even know who you’re entrusting your information with.
Of course, everyone makes mistakes. People carrying your information don’t always intend for it to get into the wrong hands, but it can be easily stolen or accessed if it’s not protected well. Do you really think the Gulf Coast residents ever imagined their addresses and names being used against them? They were probably eager to provide BP with their information so they could gain some relief and help. A similar scenario can happen to you.
Just think…how many times have you seen agencies requesting monetary funds to help the relief efforts in Japan? This is a hot topic and while there are valid organizations out there trying to collect money to rebuild Japan, there are just as many frauds. To protect yourself from these donation and charity scams, request that the organization send you a printed financial statement – by law, this documentation should be provided if asked.
You probably also receive emails and paper mail saying that you’ve won a sweepstakes or the lottery. Don’t let the sensationalism of the documentation cloud your better judgment. If you read the finer print, you might find that you have to pay money for a processing fee – FYI, you should never have to put out money to win money in the U.S.
It’s important to be cautious of who you give your personal information to. It’s your right to find out how your data will be protected and who will be viewing it. Get answers to these questions and research groups as much as you can before writing out money or providing your name, address, phone, etc.