Cyber-scammers are quick to prey on people’s emotions with bogus e-mails and phony Web sites devised to steal what should have been charitable donations.
Security company Symantec says it's already seeing online scams crop up around the Haitian earthquake including spam e-mails soliciting donations, and poison search results that can infect computers with malware.
Security experts urge computer users to follow best practices to help stay safe online, and ensure donations and support reach the victims of this catastrophe and not the scammers.
Symantec cautions that, when donating to a charity online, always remember:
* Avoid clicking on suspicious links in email or IM messages as these may be links to spoofed Web sites. Rather type Web addresses, such as those from a charitable organisation, directly into the browser rather than clicking on links within messages.
* Never fill out forms in messages that ask for personal or financial information or passwords. A reputable charitable organisation is unlikely to ask for your personal details via e-mail. When in doubt, contact the organisation in question via an independent, trusted mechanism, such as a verified telephone number, or a known Internet address that you type into a new browser window.