Ebola Virus Scams

The New York State Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection is warning consumers to research any charitable requests prior to making a donation. Scammers rely on individuals to make decisions with their heart instead of their head and are currently trying to defraud the public using the recent Ebola outbreak.  As public concern grows, scammers are looking to profit from these fears. These scammers claim to be taking collections for victims’ families or medical charities who are fighting Ebola when in actuality, they are just taking donations for their own personal gain.

In addition, it is imperative that consumers understand that treatments for the disease are in extremely short supply and are not available for purchase online or in stores.  Scammers may contact you and try to sell you products that allegedly cure or prevent Ebola infections. These items do not do what they are touted to do, as there are currently NO approved vaccines or drugs for Ebola on the market.

Scammers may contact you online, though the phone (home and mobile), through direct mail, or through door to door solicitations. 

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection strongly recommends that consumers take note of the following tips to avoid being affected by fraudulent charities:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust.  If you come across a charity you would like to donate to, do your research to verify its legitimacy.

  • Do not assume charity messages posted on social media are authentic.  Never give money over the phone or on a non-secure website.  Directly contact the charities of your choice to verify the legitimacy.

  • Never give out your personal, credit card or online account details unless you have initiated contact and it is a trusted source.

  • Ask questions.  Ask to see detailed information about the person’s identity, mission, costs and how the donation will be used.  Also, ask for proof that a contribution is tax deductible.

  • Most charities with the exception of religious organization and some educational institutes, are required to register with the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.  You can check to see if the charity is registered by going to http://www.charitiesnys.com/RegistrySearch/search_charities.jsp

For more information regarding scam prevention and mitigation, please contact the New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection at (518)-474-8583.