Avoid fraud: How to protect yourself
UNICEF is deeply concerned about the fraudulent use of our name and logo by unethical individuals who deliberately abuse the trust of UNICEF supporters worldwide. Following are details on how fraud is perpetrated – and how to help protect both UNICEF and yourself from its potentially serious consequences.
We have received reports that imposters may now be using UNICEF’s name – and our hard-earned credibility – to solicit members of the public via websites, e-mails and phone calls.
These abuses have been brought to the attention of UNICEF’s legal department. We are alerting the public as well, in an effort to ensure that innocent victims are not lured into providing their personal contact details.
Please be advised that websites, e-mails and phone calls offering jobs or prizes on behalf of UNICEF are fabricated and fraudulent. Only UNICEF and its 36 national committees are authorized to send communications or appeals to the public in UNICEF’s name.
Beware of ‘phishing’
With heightened media attention regarding the theft of personal data, many consumers – as well as supporters of humanitarian organizations like UNICEF – are concerned about the privacy and integrity of their personal data.
That’s why it is important to be aware of fraudulent Internet correspondence, also known as ‘phishing’.
Phishing is a type of fraud in which e-mail messages, instant messages and websites are used to deceive individuals into providing confidential, personal information. The term relates to the idea that people will ‘take the bait’ and disclose personal information, which can be used for credit card fraud and other serious violations of privacy.
Phishing e-mails generally appear to be sent from legitimate organizations, asking users to either reply or link to a web page to update their personal information. They sometimes contain an organizational logo and even a physical address, but the web address, or URL, does not match that of the legitimate organization.
Don’t get ‘hooked’
Among the data typically requested by phishers are the user’s name and address; Social Security number; account numbers and passwords; and bank account and credit card information — sometimes even the account holder’s mother’s maiden name or other private information used for security purposes.
Here are some measures you can take to avoid getting ‘hooked’ by a phishing scheme:
- Be alert to any unexpected e-mail, instant message, voicemail or fax that claims to be from a bank, credit card company, online service or charitable organization with which you have an account or membership
- If you do receive such a message, call the appropriate customer or donor service number (but not any number provided in the message) and verify whether it is legitimate
- Do not respond to any e-mail, phone or fax instructions that prompt you to divulge your personal information
- Do not click on any links in a suspicious e-mail; clicking on such a link may cause the download of key-logging or ‘spyware’ programmes onto your computer
- Regularly log on to your online banking, credit card or other accounts and reconcile your statement balances to ensure that all transactions are legitimate
- Use up-to-date anti-virus software – including spam filters and even ‘anti-phishing’ programmes, which are available to help screen out potential phishers on websites and e-mails.
Examples of fraud
The screenshot above shows how UNICEF’s name can be misused for fraudulent purposes online. The conference advertised is not connected in any way to UNICEF’s legitimate work. In fact, this appeal is an example of a fake international conference scam – a variant of the well known ‘Nigerian 419’ advance fee/fake lottery scam, in which people are conned into wiring funds over the Internet.
In another example, a fraudulent e-mail claims that the recipient has been chosen by UNICEF to receive a large cash grant for personal, educational and business development. The message goes on to ask the recipient to contact a non-UNICEF e-mail address for information on collecting the funds. UNICEF does not offer any such grants to individuals; the sender of this message is attempting to get confidential financial details from its targets.
Yet another a spam message with the subject line ‘Global Opportunity from UNICEF’ has been circulating as a fundraising appeal. The message solicits confidential data by offering a commission to people who will accept donations on behalf of UNICEF. The ‘Global Opportunity’ message is fraudulent; UNICEF does not operate or associate itself with any such fundraising scheme. The return address on the fake UNICEF e-mail is a Gmail account.
In one other online scam, current vacancies were cut and pasted from the UNICEF website and posted on a bogus ‘employment’ site with a Yahoo return address. When applicants responded to the job ads, they received e-mails seeking personal information, including marital status and bank and credit card details.
Please do not respond to any such communications that prompt you to reply to an e-mail address with a non-UNICEF domain name.