Credit unions might want to warn members that past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted criminals to solicit contributions that they claim are for a charitable organization or a good cause.
Before making any donation, consumers should use these guidelines, said the FBI.
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within the messages;
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites;
Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by using Internet-based resources to assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site;
Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show photos of the disaster areas in attached files because these files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders;
Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes; and
Do not give personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions; providing that information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
The agency said anyone receiving a suspicious e-mail or anyone who becomes a victim of such incidents should notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center, known as IC3.