On April 15, 2019, a devastating fire had broken out beneath the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – a monumental French Gothic building that dates to the 14th century. In the age of social media, it didn’t take long for the news to reach everyone around the world, with millions of people expressing their condolences.
Firefighters worked throughout the night to extinguish the fire, but when it was put out, the spire of the cathedral had collapsed, and the upper walls were damaged severely, with the roof almost entirely destroyed.
Luckily, large sections of the building were saved, including many works of art and other treasures. However, three people, on them a firefighter, have been injured.
Fundraising efforts quickly started, with more than €800 mn ($882 mn) pledged within 24 hours. Unfortunately, there were dozens of scams going around, which took advantage of those hoping to aid the restoration, which could take more than 20 years to complete.
With online fundraising scams on the rise, there are several things to be aware of to avoid becoming a victim yourself. The following article will take a look at the red flags you need to keep an eye out, while providing a list of official Notre Dame fundraising options.
Scams you should be aware of
In many cases, scams are so sophisticated that they appear to be 100% legit. However, falling prey to such scams could end up with your private information stolen.
The following section will dig deeper into the most common scams that thieves are using to get their hands on your personal and financial data.
Social media scams
There’s a dark side to social media, where cybercriminals are attempting every trick in the book to lure people into clicking innocent-looking website links.
Headline-grabbing events, such as the Notre-Dame fire, provides cybercriminals with the perfect opportunity to take advantage of anyone who wants to contribute towards a good cause. Therefore, you should think twice before entering any personal data on links that you find on social media sites.
To avoid becoming a victim of a scam, it’s worth checking the page that shared the link. Then you can see if a verified account has shared it. This ensures that a genuine organization in fact runs the social media page which shared the link.
Additionally, it’s highly recommended to visit websites directly and double-check the URL to be on the safe side. This will help you avoid ending up on a phishing website, discussed in the next section.
Phishing websites are made to look and feel like their real counterparts with one big difference – they will grab every piece of private data they can. Some fake websites are so convincing that it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart from the genuine version.
Some of the red flags to keep an eye on are slow-loading times, poor spelling and grammar, and the absence of trusted payment methods. These are just some of the reasons why you should always take the time to think before you act to avoid falling into an online trap.
Bogus links are rife on social media platforms, but you’ll also find them elsewhere on the internet too. This includes spam or phishing emails, which may contain a clickbait title and text that can trick you into believing it had been sent from a reliable source.
To stay safe online, you should avoid clicking on links in emails that you have received. Also, don’t be hasty when it comes to entering your personal information on websites that you aren’t completely sure about. If in doubt, steer clear, and you might well have made one of the wisest decisions you will ever make.
Official Notre Dame fundraising options
Now that you are aware of the scam threats which have arisen in the wake of the Notre Dame tragedy, you might be looking for a safe way to join the fundraising.
With that in mind, here are some of the official fundraising efforts:
- la Fondation du Patrimoine
- la Fondation de France
- la Fondation Notre-Dame
- le Centre des monuments nationaux
By this point, you should have the knowledge needed to identify scams and keep the cybercriminals at bay.
It’s a given that many people around the world will want to donate to charitable schemes such as the Notre-Dame restoration fund. But scammers will often take advantage of the generous nature of millions of people around the world.
Thankfully, being aware of bogus links, phishing websites, and social media scams can go a long way in protecting you from any would-be thieves.